And once again another news boosting the ever increasing epidemics of obesity and problems that follow it. The news this time hinges on relationship between gut bacteria and weight of a person.
So, considering the vast number of diseases originating just from gut or because of malfunctioning of gut, researchers have begun calling gut as our “second brain” and probiotics (tiny drinks/pills that fill your colon with healthy bacteria) as the “auxiliary cavalry” contributing 80% to the immune system’s capacity. (Read more about Probiotics on wiki)
Not only this, the gut microbiota plays an important role in energy homeostasis too. That’s like a hidden ally for personalized fat-fighting therapy. (Energy homeostasis is balance of caloric uptake, expenditure and storage for later use)
Previous work on obesity and probiotics
Earlier clinical trial were done on mice, where the obese mice were benefited (as in, lost weight) only when they ate a low-fat high-fiber diet along with probiotics. However, effects of gut bacteria on lean mice were found zero. They neither gained, nor lose any fat. So, clearly the bacteria too wants you to get leaner! 
Now the question arises, is rise in bacteria population a sign of weight loss or an increase in bacteria count can actually lead to weight loss? You getting me? Its a question of what follows what.
The recent developments
To solve this mystery, Professor Angelo Tremblay of Universite Laval, chose 125 random test subjects (all overweight), and put them on a 12-week weight loss diet followed by a weight management period of another 12 weeks. The subjects were randomly divided into intervention and control group. During this study, the intervention group received two pills of probiotic bacteria, while placebo pills were provided to the control group. 
Results of the study
- After 12 week trial – Average weight loss in intervention group: 4.4 kg, average weight loss in control group: 2.6 kg
- After 12 week maintenance period – Average weight loss in probiotic group: 5.2 kg, no weight loss in placebo group
Conclusion: With probiotic intervention in diet one can lose twice as much weight as through a diet devoid of it.
Possible explanation of these results could be that gut bacteria may have altered the permeability of intestine which resulted in the release of hormones that reduce food cravings and promote glucose tolerance, both helpful for preventing obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Other benefits of Probiotics observed during the study
- Decrease in total fat and triglyceride levels of body
- Reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress in liver and colon – protection of liver
- Increased insulin sensitivity – reduced rate of energy to fat conversion for storage and prevention of Type 2 diabetes
Will probiotic drinks and yogurt help me lose more??
Definitely! Probiotic supplements in market contain some eight strains of gut-friendly bacteria. Professor Trembley also mentioned, that the strain of bacteria found useful in this study are used in yogurts manufactured by Nestle and can, thus, aid in weight loss and maintenance along with other measures.
A minor glitch in the study: The effects of probiotic supplement were visible only in female subjects, while the weight in their male counterparts remained completely unaltered. The reason behind this is further being put under lens, and I’m sure the scientists will soon come up with another intelligent solution to treat obesity in males too.
1. Probiotics May Help Ward Off Obesity, Study In Pregnant Women Suggests
References  Mekkes MC, Weenen TC, Brummer RJ, Claassen E. The development of probiotic treatment in obesity: a review. Benef Microbes. 2013 Jul 25:1-10. PMID: 23886977  Angelo Tremblay et. al. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. British Journal of Nutrition DOI: S0007114513003875