21 November 2013

Antibiotics and obesity

Correlation does not prove causation.  For the potentital interrelationship between the two maps above, see the article at Mother Jones.
Hicks and her team can't yet explain the connection between obesity and high rates of antibiotic prescription. "There might be reasons that more obese people need antibiotics," she says. "But it also could be that antibiotic use is leading to obesity."

Indeed, a growing body of evidence suggests that antibiotics might be linked to weight gain. A 2012 New York University study found that antibiotic use in the first six months of life was linked with obesity later on. Another 2012 NYU study found that mice given antibiotics gained more weight than their drug-free counterparts. As my colleague Tom Philpott has noted repeatedly, livestock operations routinely dose animals with low levels of antibiotics to promote growth.
As always, more at the link.


  1. I'm blown away by anyone saying that they can't explain the connection.

    It's incredibly well known that being overweight compromises your immune system. A compromised immune system leads to more infections, leads to more infections your body cannot handle on it's own, leads to more antibiotics.

    This is especially exacerbated if the person is overweight due to a high sugar/high carb diet as the increased insulin even further diminishes immune system response.

    1. I find that dubious at best. 'Well known'? By who?

  2. They could try, wheat consumption, as a parameter and see what happens.

  3. Let's not overlook the antibiotics. As the article states, it is WELL KNOWN that antibiotics are used to increase growth and weight gain in food animals. In fact, 80% of all antibiotics used in the USA are used to feed to food animals that are not ill, strictly for the purpose of weight gain.

  4. Also, most antibiotics are used in food animals first, brought out into the market/environment years before they are FDA approved for human administration, so that pharmaceutical companies can receive returns sooner for spending years and millions of $$$s developing these drugs. As a result, hospitals usually start seeing resistance 6 months after an antibiotic comes out into the market for human use. If I remember correctly, vancomycin was one of the few drugs that weren't approved for animal use, and thus stayed effective for much longer than other antibiotics.

  5. our gut flora are have an important role in helping us digest our food. anitbiotics clean out beneficial gut bacteria, allowing the gut to be colonized by other bacteria that would normally be suppressed by the normal gut flora. the new colonists may be pathenogenic or simple unhelpful but either way they do not help us get nutrition out of our food. since there is less available nutrition, people eat more, consuming more calories to get the same amount of crucial vitamins, minerals and proteins.

    that said, we also eat more sterile food and less fermented food. the bacteria in fermented food are typically beneficial bacteria and without them many people never have a good gut colony.

    a diet rich in carbohydrates but poor in protein, nutritional fats, vitamins and minerals starve not only us, but our symbiotes. it is much more difficult for us to regulate our blood sugar when we are eating mostly refined carbohydrates without the help of beneficial bacteria. the result is complicated metabolic disease featuring uncontrolled blood sugar and inflammation. what follows is the typical story of arteriosclerosis, periphrial neuropathy, retinal detachment, athsma, eczema, etc most of which we have identified as auto-immune or inflammatory diseases which are often co-occurent with a primary diagnosis of diabetes.

  6. Nothing new if you've ever read an article on the subject. But thanks for reminding us.
    2009: http://www.economist.com/node/14843803
    2012: http://www.economist.com/node/21560523
    2013: http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21586269-how-bacteria-your-gut-may-be-shaping-your-waistline-wider-understanding


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