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The Gut Facts About Childhood Obesity

A Harvard study came to the sobering conclusion nearly two years ago that a majority of today’s children (57 percent) are projected to become obese by the time they reach age 35. Would you feel a little better about your child’s future knowing you could take steps to protect her/him from becoming an obesity statistic? Medical science may be able to predict if a child is at risk for becoming overweight or obese by checking his/her microbiome at age 2.

Body mass index (BMI) was the key takeaway from an analysis of gut health data collected from the Norwegian Microbiota (NoMIC) study of children born between 2002-08 in a southern Norway hospital who are close to or already in their teen years (the findings were published in the journal, mBio). Researchers from Norway and the U.S. examined gut health information collected on 165 children six times during their first two years of life — day 4, day 10, 1 month, 4 months, 1 year and 2 years — then compared it to their body mass index (BMI) at age 12. Based on gene sequencing, scientists found noticeable differences in a child’s gut bacteria at two distinct times — day 10 and age 2 — that were associated with an accurate BMI prediction at age 12.

“At the early time points, there was somewhat of a relationship between the gut microbiota taxa and later BMI, but the relationship was much stronger as the kids got older,” says Dr. Maggie Stanislawski, the first author for the study who works at the LEAD Center, affiliated with the Colorado School of Public Health. “At 2 years, it was the strongest.” Moreover, this gut health profile existed before any outward signs of extra weight or obesity, leading scientists to speculate poor dietary choices could be the culprit.

These findings also mirror ones from a recent report about the overuse of antibacterial cleaners depleting a baby’s gut of just enough health-promoting bacteria that it elevated her/his obesity risks by age 3.

What you can do about it

Giving your child a gut-healthy start is critical to their health, even into their active teen years. Breastfeeding coupled with natural childbirth can make a HUGE difference in your baby’s gut health, along with feeding them good foods rich in dietary fiber.

Also, you want to be aware limit your child’s exposure to antibiotics as much as you safely can. The more you expose your young child to antibiotics, the greater his/her risk of obesity. One more safe and healthy way to boost the gut health of your son or daughter and protect him/her from the many health risks associated with childhood obesity is also an easy one.

If you’ve been looking for probiotics for children, EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic contains four key building blocks of beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic that feeds the good bugs in your child’s gut. Moreover, EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic comes in a powder you can sprinkle on soft foods (for children up to age 3) and a chewable berry-flavored tablet (for children ages 3-8).

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