Obesity Linked to Bacteria Infection
New research from New York University’s School of Medicine has determined that obesity and lack of blood sugar control are associated with overgrowths of Helicobacter pylori, a species of bacteria that colonizes in the stomach.
The research, led by Yu Chen, Ph.D., MPH, an Environmental Medicine professor at New York University, consisted of a cross-sectional analysis of examinations of 13,489 people tested for Helicobacter pylori bacteria and glycosylated hemoglobin – also called HbA1c.
After eliminating possible conflicting data, they found that those with former or present H. pylori infections had higher HbA1c levels, as well as higher body mass index levels (BMI).
Higher levels of HbA1c levels have been associated with glucose intolerance – also referred to as lack of blood sugar control. This is because glucose reacts with hemoglobin in the bloodstream to produce glycated hemoglobin. Higher HbA1c levels indicate abnormally high levels of blood sugar. Therefore, doctors will typically test HbA1c levels, and if they find that HbA1c levels are above normal ranges, they will suspect the patient has glucose intolerance and possibly even diabetes.
Increased HbA1c levels are also associated with obesity, as glucose intolerance increases fat storage. High HbA1c levels have also been associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The researchers noted that the greatest association with H. pylori occurred in those people with a combination of higher HbA1c levels and higher BMI levels. This correlates with other clinical data finding that many obese people also suffer from poor blood sugar control.
H. pylori is a bacteria that colonizes the stomach and upper intestines. H. pylori infections were found to be associated with ulcers more than a decade ago.
The overgrowth of H. pylori in the stomach and intestines has been the subject of controversy over the past few years. Probiotic research has found that H. pylori infections are reduced and controlled by probiotic supplementation. This may well be why research has also found that probiotics help weight loss and increase glucose control.
Chen Y, Blaser MJ. Association Between Gastric Helicobacter pylori Colonization and Glycated Hemoglobin Levels. J Infect Dis. 2012 Mar 13.
Adams C. Probiotics: Protection Against Infection. Logical Books. rev. 2011.