A test on kids' poop may tell whether they are tempting to become overweight, since a study published on Tuesday in the journal mBio showed that evaluating the gut microbiota of infants could help identify their risks of obesity in coming years.
The study revealed that gut microbiota composition at two years of life is associated with body mass index (BMI) at age 12.
The BMI at age two was not significantly higher in children who later became overweight or obese, indicating that gut microbiota composition may be the earliest warning sign for detecting obesity.
"Our study provides more evidence that the gut microbiota might be playing a role in later obesity," said the paper's lead author Maggie Stanislawski, a research associate at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The researchers analyzed data from 165 infants who had BMI measured at 12 years. They recruited moms and infants in the hospital at the time of delivery. At 12 years of age, 20 percent of the 165 children in the study cohort were overweight or obese.
They compared the BMI at age 12 with gut microbiota samples from six time points throughout their childhood, at day four, day ten, one month, four months, one year, and two years.
Then, they performed RNA gene sequencing on the gut microbiota samples. "We looked at whether there were specific taxa that were predictive of later BMI at each time point," said Stanislawski.
The researchers found qualitative differences in the composition of children's gut microbiota at day ten and at two years that were associated with BMI at age 12.
The study also found that some gut microbes that are generally thought to be healthy in both children and adults were associated with higher childhood BMI. "This highlighted that we did not fully understand the dynamics of the gut colonization process."