Gut bugs might influence child's odds for obesity

Gut bugs might influence child's odds for obesity
Heavy kids had higher levels of certain microbes, as did kids who ate little protein, study finds.

(HealthDay) -- Levels of certain gut bacteria and low protein intake may raise children's risk of being obese, new research suggests.

The study included 26 obese and 27 non-obese children aged 6 to 16 who completed a dietary and physical activity survey. Stool samples from the children were analyzed to assess the presence of different types of gut bacteria.

Overweight and obese children had different proportions of various gut bacteria than normal weight children. The ratio of Bacteroides fragilis to Bacteroides vulgatus was 3:1 in overweight and obese children, while this ratio was reversed in normal weight children, the investigators found.

Like the normal weight kids, children who ate more protein also had lower levels of B. fragilis. That suggests a possible connection between and obesity, according to the researchers from the University of Hasselt and the in Belgium.

The study, slated for presentation Wednesday at the European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, revealed no significant associations between and levels of physical activity.

"Our results suggest that low concentrations of Bacteroides fragilis group bacteria, together with a low during childhood, could lead to the development of obesity," Liene Bervoets, of the University of Hasselt, and colleagues explained in a news release from the European Congress on Obesity.

While the findings indicate an association between a certain composition of gut microflora and , the researchers did not prove that having the wrong gut microbes can cause obesity.

But the study authors noted that the findings suggest that manipulating the makeup of gut microbiota through diet, prebiotics or probiotics may help prevent obesity. Prebiotics and probiotics are ingredients in food that may stimulate the growth of in the digestive tract.

Bervoets also suggested that existing guidelines on protein consumption may need to be revised.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines how parents can keep their children at a healthy weight.

Related Stories

Understanding the relationship between bacteria and obesity

May 26, 2010

Research presented today sheds new light on the role bacteria in the digestive tract may play in obesity. The studies, which were presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, paint a picture ...

No link between gut bugs and obesity

Nov 05, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The types of bacterial bugs found in our guts are not a major cause of obesity, according to latest findings from Aberdeen researchers.

Gut bacteria can cause obesity

Feb 12, 2010

Diet, exercise and genes are not the only factors which determine if someone can become obese. The composition of the intestinal bacteria may also account for a person's obesity. This is the contention of Wageningen microbiologists ...

Gut organisms could be clue in controlling obesity risk

Apr 23, 2012

The international obesity epidemic is widespread, nondiscriminatory, and deadly. But do we really understand all of the factors underlying this alarming trend? The concept of energy balance (energy consumed = energy expended ...

Recommended for you

Blending faith and science to combat obesity

1 hour ago

Science and religion may seem like uneasy partners at times, but when it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles, one UConn Health researcher has shown they can be an effective combination.

Research project puts stroke patients back on their feet

1 hour ago

Finding the will to exercise routinely can be challenging enough for most people, but a stroke presents even more obstacles. Yet aerobic exercise may be crucial for recovery and reducing the risk of another ...

Air quality and unconventional oil and gas sites

4 hours ago

Research suggesting air pollutants released by unconventional oil and gas production are well over recommended levels in the US is published today in the open access journal Environmental Health. High levels of benzene, hydrog ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.