Thursday, December 21, 2006

Also: Fat Jokes Linked to Douchebaggery

Last year I interviewed someone who views himself as assiduously indie and progressive, so I was surprised when he made fat jokes from the stage after our conversation. (My tip off that he's a bit of a douche should have been when he kept asking about Ben G., as if I would tell one interview subject stories about another interview subject. Of course, I don't.)

It's always struck me as obvious that obesity, like most major health problems, is complex in its origins. Research continues to bear this out. From the Associated Press:

Bacteria May Contribute to Obesity

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The size of your gut may be partly shaped by which microbes call it home, according to new research linking obesity to types of digestive bacteria.

Both obese mice -- and people -- had more of one type of bacteria and less of another kind, according to two studies published Thursday in the journal Nature.

A "microbial component" appears to contribute to obesity, said study lead author Jeffrey Gordon, director of Washington University's Center for Genome Sciences.

Obese humans and mice had a lower percentage of a family of bacteria called Bacteroidetes and more of a type of bacteria called Firmicutes, Gordon and his colleagues found.

The researchers aren't sure whether more Firmicutes makes you fat or if people who are obese grow more of that type of bacteria.

But growing evidence of this link gives scientists a potentially new and still distant way of fighting obesity: Change the bacteria in the intestines and stomach. It also may lead to a way of fighting malnutrition in the developing world.


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