(CNN) – Why are some people obese and others not? Are the lack of exercise and poor diet the only factors that lead to someone becoming overweight?
Researchers don’t think so. Many believe a number of environmental and genetics factors lead to morbid obesity.
Now researchers at the University of Maryland school of Medicine have identified 26 different types of bacteria in the human digestive system that appear to be linked to obesity.
They believe these bacteria could cause a condition known as metabolic syndrome which is made up of different factors, which increases the risk of heart problems and diabetes.
They include elevated cholesterol levels, elevated serum triglycerides levels, high fasting glucose levels, insulin resistance, high blood pressure.
The data was gathered from the famous old order Amish study of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania. It showed an apparent link between the gut bacteria and inflammation, which has been shown to be a major factor in obesity and other chronic diseases.
Such things as inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, arteriosclerosis.
Authors of the study say more research is needed to see if the “chicken and the egg” theory applies, meaning if obesity is caused by the bacteria, or the bacteria is caused by being overweight.
If doctors do find the bacteria is part of the cause, they may be able to find treatments to prevent morbid obesity in people.