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There is mounting evidence that microbiome composition is intimately and dynamically connected with host energy balance and metabolism. The gut microbiome is emerging as a novel target for counteracting the chronically positive energy balance in obesity, a disease of pandemic scale which contributes to >70 % of premature deaths. This scoping review explores the potential for therapeutic modulation of gut microbiota as a means of prevention and/or treatment of obesity and obesity-associated metabolic disorders. The evidence base for interventional approaches which have been shown to affect the composition and function of the intestinal microbiome is summarised, including dietary strategies, oral probiotic treatment, faecal microbiota transplantation and bariatric surgery. Evidence in this field is still largely derived from preclinical rodent models, but interventional studies in obese populations have demonstrated metabolic improvements effected by microbiome-modulating treatments such as faecal microbiota transplantation, as well as drawing attention to the unappreciated role of microbiome modulation in well-established anti-obesity interventions, such as dietary change or bariatric surgery. The complex relationship between microbiome composition and host metabolism will take time to unravel, but microbiome modulation is likely to provide a novel strategy in the limited armamentarium of effective treatments for obesity.

Original publication




Journal article


Nutrition research reviews

Publication Date





207 - 220


University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, United Kingdom.


Humans, Obesity, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Gastrointestinal Microbiome, Fecal Microbiota Transplantation