At this point, there’s really no need to harp on the statistics revealing the obesity epidemic in America. We’ve been bombarded by numbers—but the truth is all you need to do is walk through an airport terminal or shopping mall to get a sense of how pervasive our weight issues really are.
So there’s of course a lot of interest in finding what might be underlying this obesity crisis. We’ve been offered all kinds of ideas, from simply consuming too many calories to being overly lazy. We’ve been told that some people are destined to be fat by reason of inheritance. And whole grain carbs have morphed from dietary darlings to targets of attack.
But by and large, when dietary recommendations are made with weight loss in mind, the major focus seems to be directed at percentages of the macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. And it’s the variation in just these three parameters that generally differentiates popular diets like Atkins, South Beach, and Weight Watchers, as well as those popularized by groups like the American Heart Association.
Truth is, when it comes to body weight there’s much more going on with respect to the foods we eat than simply macronutrients. It turns out that our microbiome, the 100 trillion microbes living in the intestines of each of us, plays a pivotal role in determining whether we're overweight or lean. And this is very much emerging research.