A group of British scientists have asked – and possibly answered – this question through a study of 500 women. Around 60% of the women in the study suffered from clinical obesity. When examining saliva samples from the obese women and comparing them with samples from a control group of average weight women, scientists found that the presence of a certain species of oral bacteria – selenomonas noxia – was significantly higher in 98% of the overweight women.
The exact connection between the oral bacteria and obesity is still unclear. “It is uncertain whether people may become obese due to changes in the bacteria in their mouths or whether these changes occur as a result of obesity,” said Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. “What impact changing the bacterial make up may have on helping to reduce obesity is certainly worth additional research.”
The oral bacteria, Selenomonas noxia, has previously been connected with gum disease and poor dental health. Scientists think it likely that this oral bacteria could serve as a biological indicator of a developing overweight condition. As possible connections between oral bacteria and obesity, it has also been speculated whether certain bacteria may have the ability to increase the appetite of individuals and make the body store up nourishment from food, causing a weight increase.
There has previously been found connections between oral health and other conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity has also been identified as a risk factor in the development of oral disease.
There is a clear connection between obesity and oral health in the fact that food products with a high sugar content have the potential to cause both obesity and dental cavities. Whether there are further connections between the two conditions will be researched further.