Personal factors like the way we metabolise food weigh heavily on obesity levels

Obesity may be misunderstood because of the very personal way we metabolise food, say scientists.

A team of Israeli experts found that the impact of eating on blood sugar differed between individuals.

The findings, thought to be linked to gut bacteria, could explain why weight loss diets that work for some individuals fail dismally for others.

During the study, scientists continuously tracked the blood sugar levels of 800 people who were given standardised breakfasts containing 50g of carbohydrates for a week.

They monitored a measurement called glycaemic index (GI) which is used to rank foods according to whether they cause a slow or sharp rise in blood sugar levels.

The scientists found that GI, used by doctors and nutritionists to develop healthy diets, was not a set value for any given food but depended on the individual.

As expected, blood sugar levels after meals correlated with age and body mass index (BMI).

But different people showed vastly different responses to the same food.

One obese and pre-diabetic middle-aged woman who had failed to succeed with a range of diets learned that her “healthy” eating habits might have been part of her problem.

Her blood sugar levels spiked after eating tomatoes.

Lead scientist Dr Eran Elinav said: “For this person, an individualised tailored diet would not have included tomatoes but may have included other ingredients that many of us would not consider healthy, but are in fact healthy for her.”

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