Low concentrations of Bacteroides fragilis, when grouped with a low protein diet in childhood, may increase the risk for obesity, according to data presented at the 19th European Congress on Obesity Meeting in Lyon, France.
Liene Bervoets, a PhD student and researcher in the department of medicine at the University of Hasselt in Belgium, and colleagues developed a cross-sectional study that included 26 obese and 27 non-obese children aged 6 to 16 years.
The aim was to determine whether the composition of the gut microbe B. fragilis was related to diet, physical activity and obesity in children.
“Our results suggest that low concentrations of B. fragilis group bacteria, together with a low protein intake during childhood, could lead to the development of obesity. Therapeutic manipulation of our gut microbiota, through changing dietary habits or administering prebiotics or probiotics at an early life stage, may be a useful strategy in the prevention of obesity,” the researchers said.
Fecal samples were analyzed to establish gut microbiota composition by quantitative plating and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, and all children finished a dietary and physical activity survey.
Results from both quantitative techniques demonstrated a negative link between BMI standard deviation score (SDS) and concentration of B. fragilis (beta=–0.41 and –0.82; P=.033 and P=.013, respectively). However, another analysis (MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry) displayed a positive link between BMI SDS and B. fragilis colonization (beta=0.02; P=.049).
Data confirmed that a higher intake of proteins (g/kg body weight) was associated with a higher colonization of B. fragilis (beta=0.5; P=.043) and a lower existence of B. fragilis (beta=–12.01; P=.032) in the gut, researchers said.
Future studies will assess the existing guidelines on protein consumption based on these findings, Bervoets concluded.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.