Identification of Gut Microbiome Influences in Early Childhood Obesity

Mark DeBoer, MD, MSc, MCR
University of Virginia School of Medicine

Kathi Huddleston, PhD, MSN, CNS, RN, Inova

Early childhood obesity continues to be a major health problem for children around the world.  While the causes of obesity are varied, there is a growing appreciation that one contributor may be the bacteria that people carry in their intestines.  These bacterial cells outnumber the cells in our own body and may contribute to the amount of energy that we are able to absorb from the food we eat.  The purpose of this study is to better understand how the bacterial content in a child’s intestines (measured by assessing the bacteria’s genetic make-up or “microbiome”), influences early childhood obesity. Our study proposes to analyze the changing gut bacteria among children <4 years old.

This study is a pilot project established between Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) Childhood Longitudinal Cohort Study (ICLC) and with the Children’s Fitness Clinic (CFC), an obesity treatment clinic in the University of Virginia (UVa) School of Medicine, Division of Pediatric Endocrinology. We are hoping to discover ways that these bacteria are linked to obesity—with the ultimate goal of finding ways to alter these bacteria and lower the risk for obesity.

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