As studies continue on the effects of that gut microbiota has on obesity it was found that the gut bacteria composition between obese children and teenagers differs enormously from their lean counterparts, according to the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The studies are being driven by the alarming rate at which obesity is afflicting children and teens worldwide. In the US childhood obesity accounts for US$14.1 billion in medical expenses.
Senior author of the study, Nicola Santoro, MD, PhD, and Associate Research Scientist of the Department of Pediatrics at Yale University, New Haven, says that by specifically changing the composition of gut bacteria in individuals, it might be possible to prevent or treat early-onset obesity before it manifests.
84 children and teenagers participated in the research, aged between 7 and 20 years old. 27 of which were obese. 35 others were severely obese, seven who were slightly overweight and 15 who were of lean, normal weight. They were subjected to MRI to measure body fat distribution. Blood samples were taken and they were required to keep a detailed three-day food diary.
The results isolated eight groups of gut bacteria that had the biggest effect on body fat; four of which grew abundantly in children and teens who were obese and not in the lean and trim counterparts. Inversely, the other four bacterial groups were less present in the obese children than those of lean weight. It was observed that the gut bacteria of the obese were far better at digesting carbohydrates.
“Our research suggests that short chain fatty acids can be converted to fat within the liver and then accumulate in the fat tissue,” Santoro said. “This association could signal that children with certain gut bacteria face a long-term risk of developing obesity.”