Bile acids may play lead role in weight-loss surgery

The weight-loss surgery called vertical sleeve gastrectomy reduces the stomach to the size of a banana. The idea is that a person will feel full sooner because they have less room to take in food.

However, a new study in mice suggests that the value of the stomach-shrinking surgery actually comes from having more gastric juices swirling around a smaller space and a change in the gut microbiome, researchers report March 26 in Nature. The team identified one bile acid molecule, called FXR, that appeared to play a critical role in sustaining weight loss. The finding could lead to less invasive ways to counter obesity, the scientists suggest.

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Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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