Study Title:

Poor Digestive Flora Linked to Obesity

Study Abstract

Background: Experimental studies suggest that gut microbiota deviations predispose toward energy storage and obesity.

Objective: We wanted to establish whether early gut microbiota composition can guide weight development throughout early childhood.

Design: Overweight and obese children (n = 25) were selected from a prospective follow-up study at the age of 7 y and identified according to the International Obesity Task Force criteria. Normal-weight children (n = 24) were selected from the same cohort and matched for gestational age and body mass index at birth, mode of delivery, probiotic supplementation, duration of breastfeeding, use of antibiotics during infancy, and frequencies of atopic diseases and atopic sensitization. Early fecal microbiota composition was analyzed by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with microscopic and flow cytometry detection and by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).

Results: The bifidobacterial numbers in fecal samples during infancy, as assessed by the FISH with flow cytometry, were higher in children remaining normal weight, [median: 2.19 x 109 cells/g (interquartile range: 1.10–5.28 x 109 cells/g)] than in children becoming overweight [1.20x 109 cells/g (0.48–1.59x 109 cells/g), P = 0.02]. A similar tendency was found by FISH with microscopic detection and qRT-PCR. The microbiota aberrancy during infancy in children becoming overweight was also associated with a greater number of Staphylococcus aureus [0.64 x 106 cells/g (0.33–1.00x 106 cells/g)] than in children remaining normal weight [0.27 x 106 cells/g (0.17–0.50 x 106 cells/g), P = 0.013].

Conclusion: Aberrant compositional development of the gut microbiota precedes overweight, offering new possibilities for preventive and therapeutic applications in weight management.

Study Information

Marko Kalliomäki, Maria Carmen Collado, Seppo Salminen and Erika Isolauri.
Early differences in fecal microbiota composition in children may predict overweight.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
2008 March
From the Functional Foods Forum and Program on Health Biosciences (SS, MK, and MCC) and the Department of Pediatrics (MK and EI), University of Turku, Turku, Finland

Full Study