Diet, adiposity, and the gut microbiota from infancy to adolescence: A systematic review

Kiley B. Vander Wyst, Carmen P. Ortega-Santos, Samantha N. Toffoli, Caroline E. Lahti, Corrie M. Whisner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Early life gut microbiota are affected by several factors that make identification of microbial-adiposity relationships challenging. This review evaluates studies that have investigated the gut microbiota composition associated with adiposity in infants, children, and adolescents and provides evidence-based nutrition recommendations that address microbiota-adiposity links. Electronic databases were systematically searched through January 2020. Eligible studies were published in English and analyzed gut microbiota and adiposity among individuals aged birth to 18 years. Abstracts and full-text articles were reviewed by three independent reviewers. Of 45 full-text articles reviewed, 33 were included. No difference in abundance was found for Bacteroidetes (n = 7/15 articles), Firmicutes (n = 10/17), Actinobacteria (n = 8/12), Proteobacteria (n = 8/12), Tenericutes (n = 4/5), and Verrucomicrobia (n = 4/6) with adiposity. Lower abundance of Christensenellaceae (n = 3/5) and Rikenellaceae (n = 6/8) but higher abundance of F. prausnitzii (n = 3/5) and Prevotella (n = 5/7) were associated with adiposity. A lack of consensus exists for gut microbial composition associations with adiposity. A healthy gut microbiota is associated with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with moderate consumption of animal fat and protein. Future research should use more robust sequencing technologies to identify all bacterial taxa associated with adiposity and evaluate how diet effects these adiposity-associated microbes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13175
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • adiposity
  • adolescence
  • childhood
  • gut microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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