Washington, Sep 22: Obese children have a different population of bacteria living in their digestive tracts compared with lean children, according to a new study that may lead to treatments for early-onset obesity.
The study is the first to find a connection between gut microbiota, also called gut flora, and fat distribution in children and teenagers, researchers said.
"Our findings show children and teenagers with obesity have a different composition of gut flora than lean youth," said the study's senior author, Nicola Santoro, Associate Research Scientist at Yale University in the US.
"This suggests that targeted modifications to the specific species composing the human microbiota could be developed and could help to prevent or treat early-onset obesity in the future," said Santoro.
The study examined gut microbiota and weight in 84 children and teenagers who were between seven and 20 years old.
The participants included 27 youth who were obese, 35 who were severely obese, seven who were overweight and 15 who were normal weight.
Researchers analysed the participants' gut microbiota. The participants underwent an MRI to measure body fat partitioning, provided blood samples and kept a three-day food diary.