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Could Obesity Be Identified with a Breath Test?

Breath tests may offer a new way to identify obesity. Dr. Michael Omidi, MD discusses new findings from research on obesity.

In the past several years researchers have studied the possibility of using breath tests to diagnosis diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancers. Now, it seems, it may be possible to identify a certain type of bacterial overgrowth through breath testing, which could indicate an individual’s risk of obesity.

Published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, a breath test may be able to deduce when the microbiome is out of balance; a mircrobiome being the term used for the complex system of bacteria, both good and bad, that live in and on us. When the microbiome is out of balance, research suggests that it could be a sign of obesity risk. The lead author of the study, Ruchi Mathur at the Division of Endocrinology at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, explained the findings this way:

“Normally, the collection of microorganisms living in the digestive tract is balanced and benefits humans by helping them convert food into energy. When [the microorganism called¬†Methanobrevibacter smithii] becomes overabundant, however, it may alter the balance in a way that makes the human host more likely to gain weight and accumulate fat.” [1]

The breath test would look for high concentrations of hydrogen and methane gases as, during the study, a strong correlation was seen between the amount of methane and hydrogen exhaled by study participants and the BMI of those participants.

While this is by no means a definitive way of isolating one’s risk for obesity, but it could be an indicator as to whether an individual that is obese could respond well to specific weight loss programs. Researchers are also unsure of whether or not modifying the bacteria in the stomach could help people lose weight easier or faster, but they do believe that it merits further exploration.

By Dr. Michael Omidi, MD

[1] http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57576367-1/a-breath-test-for..-obesity/

Breath Test for Obesity

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