Antibiotics can make you fat: Spanish scientists

The long-term use of antibiotics can lead to weight gain because of changes in gut flora, a group of Spanish researchers has found.

Antibiotics can make you fat: Spanish scientists
Long-term use of antibiotics can change the make-up of intestinal flora leading to weight gain, the researcher say. File photo: stab at sleep/Flickr

Scientists working out of Spain's top government science body CSIC found the link by analyzing the gut flora of people with normal weight, obese people and people on antibiotics.

They found that the intestinal flora of obese people and people on antibiotics changed so that both groups had similar problems when it comes to metabolizing sugars.

"The study suggests the development of obesity and long-term antibiotics treatment change the intestinal flora to make enzymes more active," researcher Manuel Ferrar told Spanish science news agency SINC.

"This favours the rapid and unbalanced take-up of carbohydrates which, in turn, adds to the development of obesity, eating disorders and, eventually, diabetes."

The Spanish study published in the journal Gut Microbes lays the groundwork for future research into possible personalized diets which could ensure people have healthy intestinal flora.

This in turn could reduce the risks of weight gain associated with antibiotics use.

The human intestine is alive with trillions of bacteria known as intestinal flora or microbiota.

"These bacteria can carry out activities and provide molecules that we can't obtain ourselves and which are vital for the correct development of the human body,"  said Ferrer.

Ferrer said age, geographic origin, diet, pregnancy and obesity could have a significant impact on intestinal flora.

Antibiotics could also change the make-up of this flora, the scientist said. 

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4 in 5 Spanish men will be overweight by 2030: WHO

Shift from Mediterranean diet to fast food will result in 80 percent of Spanish men and 55 percent of women being overweight by 2030, the World Health Organisation has warned.

4 in 5 Spanish men will be overweight by 2030: WHO
Photo of overweight men: Shutterstock

Spaniards are packing on the kilos at an alarming rate.

That’s according to an investigation by the country’s Mar de Barcelona hospital –backed up by the World Health Organisation – which found that 80 percent of Spanish men and 55 percent of women will be overweight by 2030 if current trends continue.

According to their data this will mean that 27 million people in Spain will be overweight in 11 years time, representing a hefty €3 billion bill for the country’s public health system.

The news comes just months after another study by the US’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation claimed Spaniards will have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040, largely thanks to the health benefits of their famed Mediterranean diet.

The American institution’s findings clash with those published in the Spanish Cardiology Magazine this week, as the latter suggest there is a growing shift among the Spanish population towards eating foods made up of processed fats and sugars rather than the traditional fruit and veg found in Spanish cuisine.

“There are currently 25 million people in Spain who are overweight, three million more than a decade ago,” Dr Albert Goday, one of the authors of the study, said of his team's findings.

“That means that conservatively there will be three million more (16 percent) by 2030 if the trend continues.”

“In men excess weight is more common up to the age of 50 whereas from 50 onward obesity rises more among women due our hormonal metabolisms.”

Researchers used data from 300,000 people’s BMI between 1987 and 2014 to conduct the study and make their estimations.

Adult Body Mass Index (BMI), a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in metres, will classify someone as overweight is it’s between 25 and 30, and obese if it’s over 30.

Being overweight can result in a higher risk of suffering diabetes, hypertension, strokes, cancer and heart attacks.

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