Changes in Weight Status and the Intestinal Microbiota Among College Freshman, Aged 18 Years

Elizabeth K. Journey, Carmen P. Ortega-Santos, Meg Bruening, Corrie M. Whisner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: The transition to college is a vulnerable period for weight gain and the onset of obesity. Gut microbes differ in obese compared with lean individuals, but gut microbiota in adolescent-aged college freshmen during a known period of weight gain have never been studied. This pre–post observational pilot study assessed associations between intestinal microbiota changes and weight-related outcomes in healthy adolescent college freshmen living in on-campus dormitories at Arizona State University (n = 39). Methods: We measured anthropometrics (waist circumference [WC], height, weight, and body mass index [BMI]) and collected fecal samples at the beginning and end of the 2015–2016 academic year. Fold changes in species-level microbes across time were measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and used in correlation and multivariate regression analyses. Results: A total of 24 female and 15 male adolescents (aged 18.54 ± .67 years) participated in this study. Over the academic year, BMI and WC increased by .97±1.28 kg/m2 and 2.64±4.90 cm, respectively. Correlation analyses indicated a significant negative association between Akkermansia muciniphila and both percentage WC change and percentage BMI change (r = −.66, p < .01; and r = −.33, p = .04, respectively). Multivariate regression analysis controlling for sociodemographics showed a significant association between A. muciniphila and percentage WC change, but not percentage BMI change (R2 = .53, p < .01; and R2 = .24, p = .15, respectively). Conclusions: As this was the first study in a university-based adolescent population to show a relationship between A. muciniphila and weight-related outcomes, further research is needed to explore these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-171
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Microbiota
  • Obesity
  • Students
  • Waist circumference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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