Current Pediatrics Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 150–155 | Cite as

The Intestinal Microbiome and Childhood Obesity

  • Jessica McCann
  • John Rawls
  • Patrick Seed
  • Sarah Armstrong
Obesity (S Armstrong and A Patel, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity


Purpose of Review

Pediatric obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. The community of microbes inhabiting the human intestine affects differential nutrient absorption, metabolism, and weight status. However, the majority of our knowledge is derived from animal models and adults with obesity. This review discusses the role of the intestinal microbiome in the development and modification of pediatric obesity, with a focus on opportunities for modification of the microbiome through alteration of environmental factors.

Recent Findings

Recent evidence suggests that obesity is associated with phylogenetic changes in the gut microbiome, yet most of what we know about the role of the microbiome and obesity is from research on adults. A vast number of variables influence the gut microbial ecology early in life, including maternal weight status, breastfeeding, dietary manipulation, antibiotic exposure, and pre/probiotic use. Both in experimental animal and human studies, advances in genomic, proteomic, and metabolomics technologies have expanded our capacity to understand the composition and phenotype of the gut microbiome and mechanistic factors that modulate human health.


The human intestinal microbiome is associated with both the environment and child obesity. Understanding the mechanisms behind microbial regulation of human metabolism during infancy and childhood is key to developing effective prevention and treatment of obesity.


Microbiome Pediatric obesity Dysbiosis Intestinal bacteria 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jessica McCann, Patrick Seed, and Sarah Armstrong declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

John Rawls reports grants from National Institutes of Health during the conduct of the study. In addition, Dr. Rawls has a patent PCT/US16/22958 pending, and a patent US11/080,755 issued.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica McCann
    • 1
  • John Rawls
    • 1
  • Patrick Seed
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sarah Armstrong
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Center for Genomics of Microbial SystemsDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsNorthwestern Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Stanley Manne Children’s Research InstituteChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pediatrics, Division of Primary CareDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA

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