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Int J Obes (Lond). 2018 Dec 19. doi: 10.1038/s41366-018-0290-z. [Epub ahead of print]

Gut microbiota and overweight in 3-year old children.

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Department of Health Security, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Kuopio, Finland.
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA, USA.
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Division of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children's Hospital, St. Louis, MO, USA.
Pulmonary Center, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Allergy and Department of Research and Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, San Diego and Pasadena, San Diego, CA, USA.
Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, NY, USA.



The gut microbiota has been associated with overweight and obesity in adults, but the evidence in children is limited. Our aim was to study whether composition of the gut microbiota at the age of 3 years is associated with overweight/obesity in children cross-sectionally.


Children, who participated in a clinical trial of prenatal vitamin-D supplementation (VDAART), underwent standardized height and weight measurements, and collection of stool samples at 3 years of age. 16 S rRNA sequencing (V4 region) of the stool samples were performed with Illumina MiSeq. Associations between microbiota and overweight/obesity (body mass index z-scores >85th percentile) was analyzed using logistic regression.


Out of 502 children, 146 (29%) were categorized as overweight/obese. Maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, birth weight and length, formula feeding during the first year, high frequency of fast food consumption, and time watching TV or computer screen at 3 years were the risk factors for overweight/obesity. Of the top 20 most abundant genera, high relative abundance of Parabacteroidetes (Bacteroidetes; Bacteroidales) (aOR(95% CI): 0.69 (0.53, 0.90, p = 0.007) per interquartile increase) and unassigned genus within Peptostreptococcae family were inversely associated with overweight/obesity, whereas high relative abundance of Dorea (Firmicutes;Clostridiales) (1.23 (1.05, 1.43, p = 0.009)) was positively associated. Associations were independent of each other. No associations were found between diversity indices and overweight/obesity.


Our data suggest that some of the differences in gut composition of bacteria between obese and non-obese adults can already be observed in 3-year old children. Longitudinal studies will be needed to determine long-term effects.


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