Antibiotic Use in Livestock Linked to Obesity

According to an article published by The Atlantic this week, conscientious carnivores may have a new reason to opt for antibiotic-free meat in grocery stores and restaurants. The ubiquitous use of antibiotics on livestock, which has long been linked to poor animal health, questionable farming practices, and the rise of resistant superbugs, now seems to be responsible for at least some of the obesity epidemic as well.

The Atlantic cites a growing body of scientific research pointing to the importance of intestinal flora (the “good bacteria”) in maintaining a healthy weight. These studies suggest a two-way street: obese individuals can improve their insulin resistance and overall health by receiving a balanced dose of gut bacteria, but individuals with a lower BMI may be at risk of “contracting” obesity if their intestinal biome is disrupted. And the greatest threat to that biome, especially among those who do not take antibiotics frequently themselves, is the ever-increasing use of such drugs in our farm animals.

70% of antibiotics used in the U.S. go to farm animals, and the vast majority of those are intended either to prevent infection (rather than treat it) or increase body weight. It now looks like that increase in weight could be passed along to the consumer – unless the connection becomes common knowledge, and demand pushes more and more farmers toward antibiotic-free practices.

To read more, click here.

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