Obesity may have a scent—and it isn't Chicken McNuggets. A new study has found that people with higher levels of methane and hydrogen on their breath tend to be fatter, thanks to gas-emitting microorganisms that live in our gut and may contribute to weight gain, reports Time.
One of the researchers says that the M. smithii microbes scavenge energy and nutrients from food, extracting more calories from each meal for their hosts. So people with elevated levels of these pesky critters in their insides may have them to thank for packing on the pounds. If that's the case, the issue may be detectable with just a breath test. “Our hope is that this is one piece of the complex puzzle that is obesity,” she says, “and that by identifying people who are obese because they have this microorganism, we can manipulate and work with the gut microbiome to lead to benefits in weight loss in that subgroup.”