Breathalyzer Test for Obesity


Every day, more evidence piles in connecting the trillions of bacteria residing in the human gut to virtually every aspect of our health and bodily functions. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism last year used a breathalyzer type of test to look for a connection between gut bacteria and obesity.

Over 700 people took a breathalyzer test. The results were divided into 4 groups:

  1. high levels of methane (chemical formula – CH4)
  2. high levels of hydrogen (chemical formula – H)
  3. high levels of both hydrogen and methane
  4. normal levels of methane and hydrogen

The people in group 3 were significantly more likely to be obese (as measured by body fat percentage and BMI).

This is where things get interesting. The air we exhale is influenced by our gut bacteria. The bacterium species responsible for methane production in the gut is called Methanobrevibacter smithii (M. Smithii). It manufactures methane by “hunting down” hydrogen atoms in the gut.

This encourages neighboring bacteria that release hydrogen to thrive. These bacteria in turn become more efficient in extracting nutrients and calories from digested food. A strong showing of methane and hydrogen means the gut is doing an above average job turning food into calories. Maybe too much above average. the result could be unwanted weight gain.

  • TanDog

    So would it then be advisable to take probiotics or not if the goal was to not be overweight?

  • Yoohoo

    Is the a link to the original study? This is so over simplified it’s not making sense…

  • Catherine

    Where is the rest of the article?? That ended too abruptly. Interesting article and I would have liked more information.

  • Lost42PoundsThisYear

    Soooo… What can we do about it? Would a dietary change make a difference? What could we do differently? Where is the rest of the article??

  • Amanda Graveland-Daines

    What this is telling me is that higher levels of methane and hydrogen are because the stomach is digesting fast, which would indicate refined carbohydrates. The soliton would be to increase your whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which are a digested at a slower rate as a result of the fiber.