Dominick Lemas, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy and faculty member in the Institute for Child Health Policy, presented “Gut Microbiota in Obesity: Reasons for Excitement and Reasons for Skepticism” at the American Society of Nutrition’s Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego. Lemas, whose research focuses on understanding the fetal origins of obesity in children, presented an overview regarding the role of the gut microbiota and obesity to the Obesity Research Interest Section of the meeting on April 5.
Growing observational data suggest that such maternal factors as overeating during pregnancy, gestational weight gain, inflammation, use of antibiotics, and breastfeeding status all help shape the colonization of bacteria in infants’ intestines, which in turn appears to influence infant weight gain, Lemas said. However, strong empirical evidence to support these findings has been lacking.
“Through my research, I hope to bridge the gap between these observational studies and the kind of rigorous scientific evidence needed to demonstrate a link between gut microbiota and pediatric obesity,” he said.