Obesity, particularly in children and adolescents, has become a significant public health problem that has reached “epidemic” status worldwide. The etiology of obesity is complex and involves lifestyle factors that are challenging to modify. The intestinal microbiota contribute to protection against pathogens, maturation of the immune system, and metabolic welfare of the host but, under some circumstances, can contribute to the pathogenesis of certain diseases. Over the last decade, novel evidence from animal and human studies has identified associations between human intestinal bacteria and host metabolism and obesity. Infancy is a critical period in the development of the gut microbiota: initial colonization is influenced not only by a number of early-life exposures, including birth mode, infant nutrition, or antibiotic use, but also by maternal factors during pregnancy, including maternal BMI, nutrition, gut microbial composition, and drug exposure, among others. Thus, an adequate nutritional and microbial environment during the perinatal period and early life may provide windows of opportunity to reduce the risk of obesity and overweight in our children by using targeted strategies aimed to modulate the gut microbiota during early life.
Part of the book: Adiposity