`Fat` gut bacteria thrive in people up north

IANS| Last Updated: Feb 12, 2014, 20:40 PM IST
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New York: Do you live up north? You may have gut microbes associated with obesity.

Researchers have found that people living farther north in colder climates have more of the bacterial group 'Firmicutes' and fewer of the group 'Bacteriodes' within their guts.

People with more Firmicutes bacteria tended to be heavier while people with leaner bodies had more Bacteriodes, says new research.

"My 'gut feeling' is that the latitude trend reflects differences in dietary intake that in turn affects the structure of the microbiome," said Seth Bordenstein, a biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Certain bacteria are good at digesting food. They break food down in a way that leaves more calories available for a person's body to use,” Taichi Suzuki, a doctoral candidate in integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, was quoted as saying.

Suzuki and his colleagues looked at studies that described the gut microbes of 1,020 people from 23 populations around the world.

One possibility is that people in colder climates have some genetic adaptations that help the obesity-linked microbes thrive, Suzuki said.

It's also possible that people farther north tend to eat the high-fat, low-fibre foods that fuel the growth of Firmicutes at the expense of Bacteriodes, added the study published in the journal Biology Letters.