Interplay between weight loss and gut microbiota composition in overweight adolescents

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Oct;17(10):1906-15. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.112. Epub 2009 Apr 23.


The aim of this study was to determine the influence of an obesity treatment program on the gut microbiota and body weight of overweight adolescents. Thirty-six adolescents (13-15 years), classified as overweight according to the International Obesity Task Force BMI criteria, were submitted to a calorie-restricted diet (10-40%) and increased physical activity (15-23 kcal/kg body weight/week) program over 10 weeks. Gut bacterial groups were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR before and after the intervention. A group of subjects (n=23) experienced >4.0 kg weight loss and showed significant BMI (P=0.030) and BMI z-score (P=0.035) reductions after the intervention, while the other group (n=13) showed <2.0 kg weight loss. No significant differences in dietary intake were found between both groups. In the whole adolescent population, the intervention led to increased Bacteroides fragilis group (P=0.001) and Lactobacillus group (P=0.030) counts, and to decreased Clostridium coccoides group (P=0.028), Bifidobacterium longum (P=0.031), and Bifidobacterium adolescentis (P=0.044) counts. In the high weight-loss group, B. fragilis group and Lactobacillus group counts also increased (P=0.001 and P=0.007, respectively), whereas C. coccoides group and B. longum counts decreased (P=0.001 and P=0.044, respectively) after the intervention. Total bacteria, B. fragilis group and Clostridium leptum group, and Bifidobacterium catenulatum group counts were significantly higher (P<0.001-0.036) while levels of C. coccoides group, Lactobacillus group, Bifidobacterium, Bifidobacterium breve, and Bifidobacterium bifidum were significantly lower (P<0.001-0.008) in the high weight-loss group than in the low weight-loss group before and after the intervention. These findings indicate that calorie restriction and physical activity have an impact on gut microbiota composition related to body weight loss, which also seem to be influenced by the individual's microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Caloric Restriction
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Exercise
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • DNA, Bacterial