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Obese, Lean Children Have Different Gut Bacteria: Study

There is a major difference in the kind of bacteria present in the digestive tracts of obese children and youth compared to their leaner counterparts, reveals a new study.

It explains a correlation between gut flora and excessive fat found in obese children and teens, further implying that certain gut bacteria in children exacerbates the risk of obesity.

The study, "Role of Gut Microbiota and Short Chain Fatty Acids in Modulating Energy Harvest and Fat Partitioning in Youth," was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

"Our findings show children and teenagers with obesity have a different composition of gut flora than lean youth," said Nicola Santoro, the study's senior author, adding that the results of their work could be used in modifying specific species of human microbiota as a means of preventing or treating obesity in the future.

Obesity is already a health risk on its own but some studies have also raised concerns about its connection to cancer, as has been reported in Tech Times.

Methodology Of Study

The study involved 84 children aged 7 to 19 years old, scanned in terms of gut microbiota and weight. In the group, 27 of the youths were moderately obese while 35 were excessively obese. Seven were overweight while 15 were of normal weight.

The researchers examined the gut microbiota of participants while their body fat partitions were assessed by MRI tests. Their blood samples were monitored and a food diary was maintained for three days.

The study found eight gut microbiota groups responsible for fat accumulation, with four groups thriving in children who were grappling with obesity.

Also, gut flora present in obese youth was found to be better at breaking down carbohydrates than those in teenagers with normal weights.

Short chain fatty acids were high in obese children's blood as well, higher compared to children who had normal weight. The study attributed production of short chain fatty acids to gut bacteria that adds fat to the liver.

Santoro notes that the results of their study hint at the possibility that fat can be formed from short chain fatty acids in the liver, with this fat then accumulating in fat tissues.

According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 percent of children and teens in the country are obese.

For the state, the costs of childhood obesity are huge. There will be a burden of 14.1 billion as an additional bill on prescription drugs and other extra costs on outpatient visits, according to the Endocrine Facts and Figures Report.

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