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Study suggests changing an overweight child’s gut bacteria could help them get healthier

A study conducted out of the University of Calgary looked to try and help reduce the size of 42 overweight children by changing their gut bacteria.
A study conducted out of the University of Calgary looked to try and help reduce the size of 42 overweight children by changing their gut bacteria. Dana Neibert

A researcher at the University of Calgary is looking to help kids who are overweight get healthier.

She’s doing that by changing their gut bacteria.

On Sunday, Raylene Reimer told the Alberta Morning News gut bacteria can be very good for people but it can also become disrupted.

“When this happens, we know that certain diseases can be associated with that, so anything from obesity to type 2 diabetes,” she said. “They even found autism and depression are linked to changes in gut bacteria.”

Forty-two children recently took part in Reimer’s study looking at the connection between gut bacteria and weight.

The children were split into two groups: half took a fibre supplement over the course of four months,the other half did not.

Reimer said the study showed a significant difference between the two groups after the four months.

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“So the children that received the fibre supplement had a decrease in their body fat… by about three per cent. And importantly, we know that the fat around the abdomen – or the central area of the trunk of your body – that was reduced by almost four per cent.

Reimer said the study also showed changes in cholesterol levels: a 19 per cent decrease in blood fat and an increase in healthy bacteria.

She said the results are clinically significant.

“The reason I say that is because the children who received the fibre supplement, having normalization of their growth rate to that which you would see in a child with a normal healthy body weight.”

Reimer said the children who didn’t take the supplement saw growth at a rate of three times what would be considered to be normal and healthy.​