ESPE Abstracts (2018) 89 P-P1-108

More than A Gut Feeling: Preliminary Evidence Supporting a Role for Lifestyle Habits in Shaping the Intestinal Microbiota in Childhood and Adolescence

Mélanie Hendersona,b, Andraea Van Hulsta,c, Gabrielle Simoneaua,d, Tracie A Barnetta,e, Vicky Drapeauf, Marie-Ève Mathieug, Belinda Nicolauh, Thibaut Varini & André Marettei


aCentre de Recherche du CHU Sainte Justine, Montréal, Canada; bDivision of Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, CHU Sainte-Justine and Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada; cIngram School of Nursing, McGill University, Montréal, Canada; dDepartment of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montréal, Canada; eEpidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Centre INRS - Institut Armand-Frappier, Laval, Canada; fDepartment of Physical Education, Université Laval, Québec, Canada; gDepartment of Kinesiology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada; hDepartment of Dentistry, McGill University, Montréal, Canada; iDepartment of Medicine, IUCPQ and INAF, Université Laval, Québec, Canada


Background: Dietary intake has been shown to influence the composition and diversity of the gut microbiota in adults, however its impact in childhood and adolescence remains uncertain. Moreover, the impact of other lifestyle behaviors such as physical activity, sedentary behaviors, sleep and fitness on the gut microbiota has rarely been investigated.

Objective: To explore the correlations between intestinal microbiota composition and measures of diversity among 15–17 year-old adolescents with a family history of obesity and 1. lifestyle habits at 15–17 years; 2. lifestyle habits in earlier childhood.

Methods: Data stem from the QUALITY cohort, a prospective cohort study of 630 children with a parental history of obesity. Lifestyle habits were assessed at 8–10 years, 10–12 years and 15–17 years, including: physical activity by 7-day accelerometry, self-reported screen time, dietary intake (at 8–10 and 15–17 years only) by 3 non-consecutive 24h dietary recalls, and self-reported sleep duration. Fitness was measured by VO2peak. 16S-rRNA based microbial profiling of stool samples obtained from 22 participants at 15–17 years (14 normal weight, 6 overweight and 2 obese) were performed to determine composition and diversity of the gut microbiota. Measures of diversity include Shannon, Simpson, Chao1 and Observed OTU indices. Pearson’s correlations assessed associations between diversity indices and lifestyle habits.

Results: Fitness at 15–17 years was positively correlated with measures of diversity (r=0.33–0.41 across all indices). More importantly, statistically significant positive correlations were noted between fitness at 10–12 years and greater microbiotal diversity 5 years later (Shannon r=0.70, P=0.001; Simpson r=0.51, P=0.03; Obs OTU r=0.50, P=0.036). Physical activity and screen time were not associated with microbiota diversity. Both total dietary fat intake and saturated fat intake at 15–17 years were negatively correlated with the Simpson index (r=−0.50, P=0.019 and r=−0.43, P=0.046, respectively). Similar, not quite statistically significant, negative correlations between total and saturated fat consumption at 8–10 years and measures of diversity at 15–17 years were also noted. At both 8–10 years and 15–17 years, percent carbohydrate intake was positively correlated with the Simpson index (r=0.43, P=0.049 and r=0.49, P=0.021, respectively). Finally, sleep duration at 10–12 years tended to positively correlate with indices of diversity at 15–17 years, the strongest correlation being with the Shannon index (r=0.39, P=0.08).

Conclusions: These preliminary findings from a small sample of children followed over 8 years suggest that microbiome diversity in late adolescence may be modulated by lifestyle habits, even in earlier childhood.