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Open letter to Boris Johnson RE: Obesity

Dear BoJo, 

It’s great that you’re trying to tackle obesity in the UK. 

You’re quite right that obesity is a risk factor for Covid-19.1 A recent government review found that scientific evidence consistently suggests that people with Covid-19 who are overweight (a BMI of more than 25) or obese (a BMI of more than 30) are at an increased risk of severe complications and death. 


Under your new plan, the NHS is promoting bariatric surgery as the best and cheapest fix for the obesity problem. 

A few problems with that approach: 

  1. Almost 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they start primary school, rising to 1 in 3 when they start secondary school, according to the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health.2 Are you going to give all those kids gastric bands?
  2. Surgery is risky. Abdominal surgery represents a high risk for hospital-acquired infections and complications that may compromise the surgery outcome.3
  3. Surgery – and the antibiotics that accompany it – damage the gut microbiome. Patients with recent abdominal surgery have an intestinal dysbiosis.4

Here’s the thing. The science on obesity is in. I have no idea why you’re not taking it into account – because it opens a treatment option that is safe, easy, natural and child-friendly. Here’s what you need to know about obesity: 

Obesity is a problem of the gut microbiome. 

We now know for a fact that obesity can be predicted by, and could be controlled by, the bugs that live inside your gut.5

In fact, scientists can even “transfer” obesity from one organism to another.6

Scientists have shown that microbial communities from the gut can transmit lean or obese traits. We even know the specific strains that influence obesity; a bacteria called Bacteroides has been observed at increased levels in the microbiota of lean individuals. 

What does the science say? 

Researchers at Washington University’s School of Medicine took samples of the microbes that were living in the guts of human fraternal and identical twins. For each pair of twins in the study, one sibling was lean while the other was obese. The researchers then transplanted the discordant twins’ gut microbiota into the guts of germ-free mice that had been raised under sterile conditions, without any microbes of their own.

What the astounded researchers observed in these mice, which were consuming a standard mouse diet, was that the recipients of the obese twins’ microbiota gained more fat than the recipients of the lean twins’ microbiota. This wasn’t attributable to differences in the amount of food they consumed, so there was something in the microbiota that was able to transmit this trait.7

Fact: Gut bacteria impacts obesity. 

What exactly is the human microbiome and how does it work? 

Your microbiome is a collection of trillions of living organisms that live inside your gut, weighing around 2 kg. This mass is so important to human health that scientists now consider it to be another “organ.” 

Imagine these bugs as an Amazon rainforest – a collection of biodiverse living organisms that exist in their own ecosystem. 

Like any ecosystem, the one inside your gut is fragile, and can be damaged. The things that damage are what I call the “4 Horsemen of the Gut Apocalypse” : sugar, antibiotics, stress and environmental toxins found in pollution, personal care products and household cleaners. 

Once the balance of the gut bacteria is thrown out of whack, it creates a condition known as gut dysbiosis. Gut dysbiosis has been firmly connected to obesity, independent of diet.8

What do antibiotics have to do with it? 

Antibiotics, particularly, are great at killing off bacteria. The problem is that they also kill off the good bacteria  inside your gut that prevent obesity. In fact, researchers have now concluded that the rise of obesity around the world is coincident with widespread antibiotic use.9

For decades farmers in Britain and around the world fed low doses of antibiotics to cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens because the drug caused the animals to gain weight.10

And what works on animals, appears to work on children as well. A  study of more than 10,000 children in the Bristol area, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that giving babies antibiotics before they are six months old appears to increase their chance of being overweight three-year-olds by almost a quarter.11

So what’s the obesity solution that is cheaper, less painful and easier than surgery? 

Improving gut health. 

This doesn’t just mean eating fewer pies. There are specific steps you can take to improve your gut health, which has to do with putting the right kind of gut bacteria back into your microbiome, and then providing those bacteria with the right kind of fibres. 

It looks like this: 


  1. Take probiotics.12
  2. Take prebiotics.13
  3. Eat a gut-healthy diet.14

Dearest Mr. Johnson – we can sort out the gut health of the British public, and we can do it without antibiotics or surgery.

Consider this – the risk of dying from COVID is doubled by comorbidity with certain health conditions:15 hypertension being the most common (30%)  followed by diabetes (19%) and coronary heart disease  (8%).16

All these issues are firmly linked with gut dysbiosis.17 18 19

Are you seeing a pattern here? Because we do. 

Sort the gut – and you sort the obesity…as well as the other issues that contribute to increased fatality risk from COVID 19. 

If you’d like more info, just get in touch with one of Nutritional Therapists at Chuckling Goat. We’re always happy to help! 

Shann Jones 
Gut Health Expert 
Nutritional Advisor 
Director, Chuckling Goat LTD 

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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