Study links oral bacteria with obesity

The results of the research published in a number of the Journal of Dental Research indicate that oral bacteria can serve as a marker for the development of obesity.

Due to concerns about the increasing prevalence of overweight people, researchers at the Forsyth Institute, Boston and the Piracicaba School of Dentistry, University of Campina, Piracicaba, São Paulo, Brazil, conducted a study focused on the possible function of oral bacteria as a contributor to obesity.

The study researchers collected saliva from 313 overweight women (those with a body mass index between 27 and 32). They identified and enumerated the bacterial populations in the participants’ saliva samples by means of an analysis of the probing DNA and compared the levels with the information of a control group of 232 healthy men and women who were also control participants in studies of the periodontal disease.

The researchers found that seven of the 40 species of bacteria investigated were present in significantly higher concentrations in the saliva of overweight women compared to the control group. They also found that 98 percent of overweight women could be identified by the presence of a single species of bacteria at levels above one percent of the total salivary bacteria.

The results of the analysis of these data suggest that the composition of the salivary bacteria changes in overweight women. The researchers concluded that it seems likely that these bacterial species could serve as biological indicators of a developing overweight condition. Future studies will investigate the role that oral bacteria plays in the pathology that leads to obesity.

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