Obesity and weight loss linked to gut microbiota

The intestinal flora continues to interest scientists, researchers have just shown that the intestinal flora of obese young people was different from that of thin children and adolescents. This is the first study published on this subject linking the intestinal flora and obesity in young people. The intestinal flora, which bears the more learned name of intestinal microbiota, has been the subject in recent years of a very important publication of studies on obesity.

The intestinal microbiota or intestinal flora lives with the human cells of the intestine. In addition to the cells that play a direct role in digestion, the intestine is made up of around 500 million neurons. This is why the intestine is sometimes called the “2nd brain”. The microbiota includes more than 300 different species of bacteria and plays an important role in the digestion process.

84 children and adolescents taken into account

This study was carried out by the Department of Pediatrics at Yale University in the US city of New Haven. The scientists analyzed the intestinal flora and the weight of 84 children and adolescents aged between 7 and 20 years. Of the participants, 27 were obese, 35 were severely obese, 7 were overweight, and 15 were normal weight. In addition to the microbiota analysis, each participant also performed an MRI to identify body fat distribution, performed blood tests and kept a food diary.

A different microbiota in obese people than in thin people

The researchers found 8 groups of microbiota related to the amount of fat in the body. Four microbial communities seemed to develop more in obese children and adolescents than those with normal weight. Smaller amounts of the other 4 microbial groups were found in obese participants compared to lean ones. The gut microbiota identified in obese youth tended to be more efficient at digesting sugars than that of children and adolescents with normal weight.

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These findings show that obese children and adolescents have a different composition of intestinal flora than thin ones. Modifications targeted on particular species making up the human intestinal flora could be developed and make it possible to prevent or treat early cases of obesity in the future.

Additionally, the researchers found that children with obesity tended to have higher levels of small chain fatty acids in their blood than those with normal weight. Small chains of fatty acids can be broken down into fat in the liver and accumulate in fatty tissue. This association could signal that children with a certain type of gut bacteria may be at long-term risk of developing obesity.

Probiotics: Twice as Much Weight Loss

Another study published in the scientific review British Journal of Nutrition had already shown that obese women who took probiotics lost during the 6 months of the duration of the study 2 times more weight than those taking a placebo. Plus, the weight loss was long-lasting and the probiotics helped control appetite.




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