Are Antibiotics Making Us Fat?


Are antibiotics making us fat? A New York Times report on the “dark side of antibiotics” reveals scientists are discovering that antibiotics may act as a “switch” which turns calories into fat rather than muscle.

It’s all part of on-going research into the effects antibiotics have on the trillions of gut bacteria that are involved in immune function, food digestion and maintaining healthy weight levels.

When lab mice are fed antibiotics they put on twice as much weight as control rats eating the same diet without antibiotics.  In the US agricultural feed stores sell bags of antibiotic powder which are used to feed young animals – calves and chickens – to encourage them to pack on the pounds.

Understanding Gut Flora

Scientists working with mice say the antibiotics were the switch that turned calories to fat, while the mice who did not receive antibiotics turned calories into both muscle and fat.

It’s long been known antibiotics kill gut flora, but now research is identifying more about these internal bacteria and understanding better what role they play in overall health.

Reports the New York Times: One recent study found that taking the antibiotic ciprofloxacin decimated entire populations of certain bugs in some patients’ digestive tracts — bacteria they might have been born with.

The New World – Anti-antibiotics

Scientists believe if they could specifically identify what bacteria did what – the bug that minimised diabetes risk for example – they could produce a whole new range of pharmaceuticals – the anti-antibiotics to reduce disease risk . . . Welcome to the new age of anti-antibiotics!

Pharmaceutical companies see a new bonanza of sophisticated probiotic drugs that instead of destroying internal flora would implant beneficial versions of specific bacteria.

Living with the Legacy

Said one of the doctors involved in the research “If I know you are at risk of developing colon cancer I could decrease the risk by giving you this bacteria and changing your microbiome.”  (digestive tract flora.)

In the meantime we are faced with the legacy antibiotics may have helped create in changing our body size and shape.




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