STRONG Kids Program Subproject: Obesity Risk Biomarkers


The STRONG Kids Obesity Risk Biomarkers subproject investigates the role of the microbial communities inhabiting the gut and how they are involved in child health and development. Specifically, this project has the following aims:

  • Establish non-invasive methodologies to identify novel biomarkers related to early onset childhood obesity
  • Correlate presence of high-risk alleles in genes associated with obesity to stool microbial density and diversity
  • Understand the impact of stool microbiota on weight gain trajectories of children
  • Explore the relationship between obesity and high methane production in children

One of the highlights of this subproject is the non-invasive approach to studying childhood obesity. For example, the DXA scan (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) is a body composition test that uses low-dose beams of x-ray energy and is comparable to one-tenth the x-ray exposure during a chest x-ray performed on an adult. Stool samples will be collected to measure the types of bacteria found in the gut, and breath and saliva will be used to measure other metabolic quantities. This research will enhance our understanding of the microbiota in preschool–age children and its relationship with child growth and development including overweight and obesity.

Research Team


This project was funded by the Illinois Research Board.


Margarita Teran-Garcia
Principal Investigator
Phone: 217-244-2025