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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012, Article ID 879151, 14 pages
Review Article

Is the Gut Microbiota a New Factor Contributing to Obesity and Its Metabolic Disorders?

1Department of Nutritional Sciences, The Penn State University, 110 Chandlee Laboratory University Park, PA 16802, USA
2Nutrition and Health Department, Nestlé Research Center, Route du Jorat 57, Lausanne 26, CH-1000, Switzerland

Received 28 July 2011; Revised 3 October 2011; Accepted 4 October 2011

Academic Editor: Zoltan Pataky

Copyright © 2012 Kristina Harris et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The gut microbiota refers to the trillions of microorganisms residing in the intestine and is integral in multiple physiological processes of the host. Recent research has shown that gut bacteria play a role in metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The mechanisms by which the gut microbiota affects metabolic diseases are by two major routes: (1) the innate immune response to the structural components of bacteria (e.g., lipopolysaccharide) resulting in inflammation and (2) bacterial metabolites of dietary compounds (e.g., SCFA from fiber), which have biological activities that regulate host functions. Gut microbiota has evolved with humans as a mutualistic partner, but dysbiosis in a form of altered gut metagenome and collected microbial activities, in combination with classic genetic and environmental factors, may promote the development of metabolic disorders. This paper reviews the available literature about the gut microbiota and aforementioned metabolic disorders and reveals the gaps in knowledge for future study.