The S. aureus may trigger low-grade inflammation, the authors speculated, and that may also contribute to developing obesity.
In other research, gut bacteria in adults have been found to be altered in obese adults who lost weight. Someday, the Finnish researchers speculated, tinkering with gut flora may help prevent or treat obesity.
The latest study doesn't pinpoint exactly why intestinal bacteria are linked with the development of obesity, said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis and president of the American Dietetic Association.
"The exact role that bacteria in the intestine play in development of obesity is still the subject of much research," she said, "but the benefits of breast-feeding are clear. Breast-feeding provides not only the proper nutrition for your infant, but it provides benefits that may impact long-term health and weight issues as well."
However, she added that, "while breast-feeding may play a role in the weight of children, so many other factors influence weight that parents shouldn't ignore good role modeling of healthy food choices, proper portions and regular physical activity. Healthy weight is a combination of factors, and no single issue will be the cause of weight gain or the magic answer to weight loss."
Another expert who has studied how obesity changes microbes in the gut calls the new study unique, because it collected information over several years and could look for differences in gut microflora. "The finding, that the lean children harbored higher levels of bifidobacteria at younger ages, is very intriguing," says Ruth Ley, a research assistant professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Still, she says, research on the role of gut bacteria in regulating body weight is in the very early stages.
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