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 activity.