Characterization of the Stool Microbiome in Hispanic Preschool Children by Weight Status and Time

Emily B. Hollister, Byron A. Foster, Mahmoud Dahdouli, Jesica Ramirez, Zhao Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Variations in gut microbiota composition and diversity have been associated with childhood adiposity, although most studies describing this have been cross-sectional in nature. Our objective was to evaluate associations between body weight and the gut microbiota over time in obese preschool-age children. Methods: Obese, preschool-age, Hispanic children provided stool samples at baseline and following a 6-month behavioral intervention. Normal-weight (NW) children also provided stool samples. Stool microbial community composition was characterized using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Estimates of within-sample diversity were calculated on operational taxonomic unit (OTU) count data, and the Firmicutes:Bacteroidetes (F:B) ratio was determined on per-sample basis. Estimates of between-sample diversity were generated using the weighted Unifrac metric, differential abundances were evaluated using Wilcoxon rank-sum tests, and associations of microbiome features with clinical data were quantified using Spearman rank correlations. Results: For the 30 obese children sampled preintervention and postintervention, a decrease in body mass index (BMI) z-score from 2.55 to 2.34 (p = 0.004, paired t-test) was observed. Bacteroides massiliensis was significantly enriched in obese children, while B. plebius was significantly enriched in NW controls. We identified significant correlations between multiple Bacteroides-like OTUs and BMI z-score, but neither F:B ratios nor OTU-level abundances were altered in conjunction with weight change in the obese children. Rather, highly individualized OTU-level responses were observed. Conclusions: Although differences exist between the gut microbiota of obese and NW children, we detected highly individualized responses of the gut microbiota of obese children over time and following weight loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-130
Number of pages9
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Hispanic
  • children
  • microbiome
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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