Expanding waistlines may be caused by more than bad diets and sedentary habits. Antibiotics could be disrupting our gut bacteria, helping people pack on fat like farm animals.
This scenario is, for now, a hypothesis, but one that’s fleshed out in two new studies. In the first, mice given antibiotics experienced profound changes to internal microbe communities that process food and regulate metabolism. In the other study, body weight in children rose with antibiotic exposures as infants.
“Early life antibiotics are changing the microbiome, and its metabolic capabilities, at a critical time in development,” said microbiologist Martin Blaser of New York University. “These changes have downstream effects on metabolism, including genes related to energy storage.”