Norwegian scientists believe a baby’s gut may predict whether a child will become overweight or obese later in life.
Researchers studied 165 children from birth to age 12. For the first two years, samples of gut flora and stool samples were taken from the children. Their parents were also asked to complete questionnaires on various factors. Over the next few years, researchers recorded the children’s weight development.
Researchers also found that the composition of gut bacteria in early childhood appeared to coincide with the children’s body mass index by the time they were 12-years-old. Furthermore, certain patterns in the bacteria at age two were predictive of the child becoming obese later in life. These same bacterial groups mirrored the gut bacteria of mothers who were obese or overweight, or who had gained a lot of weight during pregnancy.
While this study’s results show a clear connection between gut flora and weight, researchers still don’t understand how this bacterium directly affects a child’s risk of becoming obese. They hope their study results will bring them one step closer in determining what role the transfer of bacteria plays from mother to newborn baby and whether it’s possible to change the risk of becoming obese by affecting intestinal flora early in life.
Further research is also needed to determine whether intervening early in life by giving a targeted probiotic supplement to children might change the outcome of those at risk of developing obesity. In addition, research is needed to show whether combining a healthier diet in combination with taking a probiotic might be the most effective solution.