Gut bacteria levels in childhood linked to obesity

May 24, 2012
Contemporary Pediatrics Staff
Contemporary Pediatrics Staff

Low concentrations of intestinal microbiota could lead to obesity in children, a new study suggests. What dietary deficiency is associated with decreased colonization rates of these bacteria? More >>

Low concentrations of intestinal Bacteroides fragilis could lead to obesity in children, a new study suggests.

Researchers reported an association between decreased levels of B fragilis group bacteria in the gut and an increase in body mass index standard deviation score (BMI SDS) in children aged 6 to 16 years. They also found that children who ate more protein had greater intestinal B fragilis colonization than children with lower protein intake.

The cross-sectional study by Bervoets and colleagues was presented May 10, 2012, at the 19th European Congress on Obesity held in Lyon, France.

Recent studies have suggested that gut microbiota may play a significant role in the pathophysiology of obesity. This study aimed to find out whether connections exist between the composition of gut microbiota and diet, physical activity, and obesity in children.

Researchers analyzed the composition of gut microbiota in fecal samples from 26 children with obesity and 27 children who were not obese using quantitative plating and polymerase chain reaction. They also had the children complete a dietary and physical activity survey.

Both quantitative analyses showed a negative association between BMI SDS and levels of B fragilis group bacteria in the gut. Dietary surveys revealed an association between higher protein intake, measured in g/kg of body weight, and higher intestinal colonization rates of B fragilis. However, there were no significant associations for level of physical activity.

The researchers conclude that a diet deficient in protein intake together with low concentrations of B fragilis group microbiota in the gut are factors that may contribute to the development of obesity during childhood.

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