Are Antibiotics Making Us Fat?

…[D]ecades of agricultural research has shown that antibiotics seem to flip a switch in young animals’ bodies, helping them pack on pounds. Manufacturers brag about the miraculous effects of feeding antibiotics to chicks and nursing calves. Dusty agricultural journals attest to the ways in which the drugs can act like a kind of superfood to produce cheap meat.

Of course, while farm animals often eat a significant dose of antibiotics in food, the situation is different for human beings. By the time most meat reaches our table, it contains little or no antibiotics. So we receive our greatest exposure in the pills we take, rather than the food we eat. American kids are prescribed on average about one course of antibiotics every year, often for ear and chest infections. Could these intermittent high doses affect our metabolism?

In 2002 Americans were about an inch taller and 24 pounds heavier than they were in the 1960s, and more than a third are now classified as obese…

…New evidence shows that America’s obesity epidemic may be connected to our high consumption of these drugs… (NYT)

Comments (7)

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  1. G. King says:

    I believe so. All of my friends using antibiotics become overweight.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    Wow! I hadn’t thought of that. Antibiotics have an impact on the flora and fauna of our digestive tract. I wonder if the bacteria that is most susceptible to antibiotics is one that helps keep our weight in check?

    • Liz Sykes says:

      That’s a great thought. I hadn’t thought about that either. You’re right-the flora and fauna in our digestive tract can be affected and broken down by antibiotics which could affect our body’s way of metabolizing.

  3. Peter A says:

    One course of antibiotics is enough to make us obese? I really don’t think that it is the main factor. Probably it is a contributing factor, but there are several other things to it than simple antibiotics. In 1960 the main entertainment system available was playing outside, today most kids hardly even see the sunlight. I not sure that if it is a factor or not, but I believe that the root to the obesity is due to a problem with our society.

  4. Thomas E says:

    Consider this, how many antibiotics are needed in order to feed a cow or a chicken. Antibiotics are included in their daily food for an extended period of time, that doesn’t reflect what humans are exposed to. Compare a cow that is organically fed with one that is fed with antibiotics, what are the differences? How much antibiotics were needed to make a difference? I no expert, but I don’t believe this to be true.

  5. Matthew says:

    How many people are taking antibiotics regularly enough to make this sort of impact? I somehow doubt this is not a major contributing factor to obesity.