The microbiota of a teenager can reveal whether we are dealing with an overweight person or not. This is because, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology that analyzes the composition of the intestinal bacterial population in adults and adolescents and compares it in relation to obesity and age, the bacterial flora of obese teenagers has peculiar characteristics, different from those of the microbiota of their normal-weight peers and obese adults. We talked about this topic with Dr. Martina Mura, dietitian of Humanitas.
Weight, age and microbiota: what is the relationship?
The study, analyzed by the doctors of the Bambin Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome, highlights the differences between the bacterial flora present in the intestines of overweight adolescents and that of other normal-weight young people. The discovery of a different microbiota, besides clarifying the need for ad hoc treatments, opens a new perspective in the treatment of childhood and adolescent obesity.
In obese adolescents there is in fact a microbial variability that is lost in adults, which makes it more difficult to intervene.
Some marker microbes, such as fecalibacterium prausnitzii and actinomyces, are present to a much greater extent in teenagers with weight problems, while these patients almost totally lack others including parabacteroides, rikenellaceae, bacteroides caccae, barnesiellaceae and oscillospira.
What role does metabolism play?
Metabolic functions are also at stake: in obese adolescents we find an increase in metabolites involved in the biosynthesis of primary bile acids and steroids and in the metabolism of certain sugars and gluconeogenesis (the biochemical synthesis of glucose from non-sugar substances).
Obesity is a rapidly expanding disease and is increasingly affecting younger sections of the population. The therapies available to date are not always effective, and it is increasingly necessary to focus on prevention and other treatment strategies.
The assignment of new bacterial markers of obesity in adolescent patients can therefore open up new avenues for restoring the equilibrium conditions compromised by obesity. This could be achieved through a functional diet and microbial therapy that makes use of specific probiotics tailored to the pathology and age of patients.