In a study that may help investigators learn new ways to fight the obesity epidemic, U.S. researchers found that certain oral bacteria may be making people fatter.
To examine this possibility, J.M. Goodson, D. Groppo, S. Halem and E. Carpino measured salivary bacterial populations of overweight women.
They collected saliva of 313 women with a body mass index between 27 and 32, and measured bacterial populations by DNA probe analysis.
Levels in this group were compared with data from a population of 232 healthy individuals from periodontal disease studies.
The median percentage difference of seven of the 40 bacterial species measured was greater than 2 percent in the saliva of overweight women.
Classification tree analysis of salivary microbiological composition revealed that 98.4 percent of the overweight women could be identified by the presence of a single bacterial species (Selenomonas noxia) at levels greater than 1.05 percent of the total salivary bacteria.
Analysis of these data suggests that the composition of salivary bacteria changes in overweight women.
It seems likely that these bacterial species could serve as biological indicators of a developing overweight condition.
Of even greater interest, and the subject of future research, is the possibility that oral bacteria may participate in the pathology that leads to obesity.
The study has been published in the June issue of the Journal of Dental Research.