-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- 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 dietary protein and obesity, according to the researchers from the University of Hasselt and the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
The study, slated for presentation Wednesday at the European
Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, revealed no significant
associations between gut bacteria and levels of physical
"Our results suggest that low concentrations of
Bacteroides fragilis group bacteria, together with a low
protein intake 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
While the findings indicate an association between a certain
composition of gut microflora and childhood obesity, the
researchers did not prove that having the wrong gut microbes can
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 helpful
bacteria 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.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines how
parents can keep their
children at a healthy weight.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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