Obesity has been rapidly increasing in prevalence in recent decades in the United States and other developed countries. This epidemic is associated with increased incidence of diabetes, dyslipidemia and arteriosclerosis as well as certain forms of cancer, including colorectal and pancreatic cancer. There is now considerable evidence that the composition of the intestinal microbiome influences susceptibility to obesity. Dietary interventions are the primary non-surgical treatment for obesity and may be effective in part by acting on the microbiome. We are collaborating with investigators at the West Los Angeles VA Medical System to investigate the effects of high protein diets on gut microbiota and how microbial shifts can contribute to weight loss on these diets.
Recent data also suggest that the intestinal microbiome can mediate response to anti-obesity surgeries. We are collaborating with the Ingestive Behavior and Obesity Program to study changes in the microbiome after sleeve gastrectomy that may mediate weight loss and reduced food intake.