BACKGROUND: Intestinal parasites, virus and bacterial infections are positively associated with obesity and adiposity in vitro and in animal models, but conclusive evidence of this relationship in humans is lacking. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to determine differences in adiposity between infected and non-infected children, with a high prevalence of intestinal parasitic infection and obesity.
SUBJECTS: A total of 296 school-aged children (8.0 ± 1.5 years) from a rural area in Querétaro, Mexico, participated in this study. Anthropometry (weight, height and waist circumference) and body fat (DXA) were measured in all children. A fresh stool sample was collected from each child and analysed for parasites. Questionnaires related to socioeconomic status and clinical history were completed by caretakers.
RESULTS: Approximately 11% of the children were obese, and 19% were overweight. The overall prevalence of infection was 61%. Ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent soil transmitted helminth (16%) followed by hookworm. Entamoeba coli was the predominant protozoa (20%) followed by Endolimax nana, Balantidium coli, Entamoeba histolytica/dispar, Iodamoeba bütschlii and Giardia lamblia. Children with moderate-heavy infection of E. coli had significantly higher waist circumference, waist-to-height ratio, body and abdominal fat than children not infected or with light-intensity infection (p < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: These findings raise the possibility that a moderate or heavy infection with E. coli may contribute to fat deposition and thereby have long-term consequences on human health. Further studies are needed to better understand if E. coli contributes directly to fat deposition and possible mechanisms.
- Journal Article