CHEVY CHASE, Md. (CBSDC) – Researchers have discovered that obesity – while already visually and scientifically evident – can also be detected on a person’s breath.
The study, which will be published later this month in the Chevy Chase, Md.-based Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, found that excessive microbes lining the intestines of obese people make themselves known in the chemical make-up of their breath.
These microbes may also be a contributing factor to obesity itself, though doctors still cite poor diet and a lack of exercise as primary causes, according to Discovery News.
Lead researcher Ruchi Mathur, who is the director of the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes Outpatient Treatment and Education Center, said that the microbe in question is normally a healthy part of the body’s digestive functions.
“Usually, the microorganisms living in the digestive tract benefit us by helping convert food into energy,” she was quoted as saying by Discovery News.
Mathur added, “However, when this particular organism, [Methanobrevibacter] smithii, becomes overabundant, it may alter this balance in a way that causes someone to be more likely to gain weight.”
Those involved with the study reportedly took breath samples from 792 participants, and ultimately wound up with four general categories – those with normal breath, those whose breath had elevated levels of methane, those with higher levels of hydrogen, and people with higher levels of both gases.
The samples containing elevated amounts of both methane and hydrogen were said to come from participants with higher percentages of body fat and higher body mass indexes.