The Loh Down On Science

Is thinness contagious? You'll be surprised by the answer!

Kay Chernush/Getty Images; Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock

News flash:  A secret ingredient inside our stomachs can make us fat!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Hold on—before you say, No, duh, Sandra!—understand I'm talking about bacteria, not cake.

Our stomachs are chock full of bacteria.  More and more, we’re finding that some of them can make us skinny or fat.  Studying twins where one was thinner than the other, researchers at Washington University transplanted the twins' gut bacteria into mice.

The transplants worked.  Bacteria from thin twins made mice skinny, while microbes from more zaftig twins made mice fat.  The mice ate the same amounts, so it had to be the bacteria.  Even stranger, fat mice got thinner when they bunked with skinny friends and the two exchanged bacteria.

So where can you get this skinny bacteria?  Well, there’s a catch.  The transplants only worked if the mice were eating healthy, high-fiber, low-fat diets.  Junk-food-loving mice were unaffected by the skinny-making microbes.

So change your diet, then start sharing straws with your thinner friends.  One of you will be glad you did.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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