Obesity is one of the major lifestyle diseases across the globe. While consumption of junk and high-calorie foods is undoubtedly a leading cause of obesity, a recent study, published in the journal Obesity Reviews, has shed light on another reason that may be a key factor behind obesity in children. Gut bacteria and its interactions with immune cells and metabolic organs, including fat tissue, is found to play a key role. Apart from the gut, the mother's diet, health, exercise level, antibiotic use, birth method (natural or caesarean), and feeding method (formula or breast milk) may also pose as a risk factor in a child getting obese.
"The medical community used to think that obesity was a result of consuming too many calories. However, a series of studies over the past decade has confirmed that the microbes living in our gut are not only associated with obesity but also are one of the causes," said lead author Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of molecular medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest Baptist.
Obesity is increasing at a 2.3 per cent rate each year among school-aged children, which is unacceptably high and indicates worrisome prospects for the next generation's health, the study stated.
For the study, the researchers analysed existing studies (animal and human) on how the interaction between gut microbiome and immune cells can be passed from mother to baby, as early as gestation, and can further contribute to childhood obesity.
"This compilation of current research should be very useful for doctors, nutritionists and dietitians to discuss with their patients because so many of these factors can be changed if people have enough good information," Yadav said.
This better understanding of the role of the gut microbiome and obesity in both mothers and their children can help scientists design more successful preventive and therapeutic strategies to check the rise of obesity in children, the researcher opined.