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.