Childhood obesity is significantly influenced by intestinal bacteria

Childhood obesity is significantly influenced by intestinal bacteria

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Gut bacteria the key factor in childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is no longer uncommon and the children affected may face serious lifelong health effects. The massively increased proportion of overweight and obese children in recent years is mostly explained by a lack of exercise and improper nutrition. But a recent study shows that intestinal bacteria and their interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including adipose tissue, play a key role in childhood obesity.

"The medical community always thought that obesity was the result of consuming too many calories," explains Dr. Hariom Yadav, lead author of the current study from the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. But a number of studies in the past ten years have shown that the microbes living in our intestines can not only be linked to obesity, but are also one of the causes. In their current study, the researchers have now attempted to more precisely decipher possible connections between the gut microbiome and obesity. The study results were published in the specialist magazine “Obesity Reviews”.

Interaction between gut microbiome and immune cells

The research team evaluated existing studies that looked at "how the gut microbiome and immune cell interaction passes from mother to baby during pregnancy and how it can contribute to childhood obesity," the Wake Forest said Baptist Medical Center.

Other influencing factors are also recorded

The researchers also investigated how the mother's health, nutrition, sports training and antibiotic use, as well as the birth method (natural or Caesarean section) and the child's nutritional method (breast milk or bottle milk) can influence the risk of obesity in the offspring.

More successful preventive and therapeutic strategies?

"We examined how all these factors affect the interaction between the gut microbiome and the immune system, how this can lead to obesity in children and what knowledge gaps still exist," the researchers sum up. A better understanding of the role of the gut microbiome and obesity in mothers and their children will hopefully help develop more successful preventive and therapeutic strategies to control the rise in childhood obesity, the study's lead author said. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Halle J. Kincaid, Ravinder Nagpal, Hariom Yadav: Microbiome ‐ immune ‐ metabolic axis in the epidemic of childhood obesity: Evidence and opportunities; in: Obesity reviews (published 10/30/2019),
  • Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center: Gut Bacteria Is Key Factor in Childhood Obesity (published 10/30/2019),

Video: The approach to treating childhood obesity. Anita Vreugdenhil. TEDxMaastricht (December 2022).