Obesity is a pandemic that kills nearly three million people every year. Since 1975, the numbers of obese people worldwide has tripled, and while not a surprise given the vast lifestyle shift, still a disheartening statistic.

Diets, drugs, surgery, therapy, hypnosis, fasting are but a few of the innumerable fixes targeting the disease. Recently, new studies have heightened interest in the link between gut microbiota and weight management.

On behalf of the International Probiotics Association, I delved into the science to write Probiotics and Obesity: An Update.

Here is an excerpt:

Experts agree that the major propellant is the abundance of fat and calorie dense foods paired with lifestyles that are ever more sedentary. When energy consumed tops energy burned, the excess is stored as body fat.

However — as the colossal diet industry attests — it’s not that simple. Given the importance to evolutionary survival, energy balance and reserves are defended or supported by an impressive array of physiological processes. As a result, obesity poses a multi-faceted and stubborn challenge which must be targeted from many directions.

Gut microbiota (GM) are one such area of heightened interest, especially given important functions in energy harvest.

The article looks at differences in gut microbiota between lean and obese subjects as well as evidence for and against probiotic efficacy in weight management.

Read it for a quick capsule at the state of the science today.