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High Fat Diet, Obesity and Microbiota

Written by
Dr Fathalla Ali, PHD Paediatrics


Nutrition during pregnancy is one of the most important factors that play a significant role in the early developmental process through the regulation of epigenetic mechanisms during pregnancy and neonatal periods. The composition of the maternal diet contributes to the development of the fetus’ epigenetic profile that may impact on human susceptibility to certain types of diseases or disorders in the later life. Additionally, maternal nutrition could also contribute to the early development of the fetus and neonatal microbiome that may influence the development of chronic diseases (such as obesity) in later life.  Therefore, the cross talk between maternal diet during pregnancy, the maternal microbiome and the fetal epigenome has been considered as one of the main determinants of fetal programing and fetal susceptibility to diseases (1). 

Obesity is highly associated with the Western Pattern Diet (high consumption of fat, animal protein and sugar, and the low consumption of complex carbohydrate). This type of diet can induce the loss of microbial diversity which led to the development of “Leaky Gut Syndrome” (A condition resulting from dysfunctional tight junction in the mucosal barrier). This in turn results in translocation of pathogenic bacteria and bacterial endotoxin (such as lipopolysaccharides; LPS0) into the systematic circulation, triggering systematic inflammation and diseases (2). Additionally, it decreases the host’s ability to harvest energy from foods by limiting the host’s access to microbial genes important for the host function. Also, low bacterial diversity can induce the growth of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria. Therefore, obesity during pregnancy has been identified as the leading cause for short- and long-term unfavorable health outcomes such as metabolic, neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders (3).

Keywords: Microbiome diversity, Epigenome, Western pattern diet, High fat diet, High sugar diet, Low complex carbohydrate diet, Obesity


  1. Li Y. (2018). Epigenetic Mechanisms Link Maternal Diets and Gut Microbiome to Obesity in the Offspring. Frontiers in genetics, 9, 342. Click here
  2. Hollander, D., & Kaunitz, J. D. (2020). The “Leaky Gut”: Tight Junctions but Loose Associations?. Digestive diseases and sciences, 65(5), 1277–1287. Click here
  3. Di Ges`u CM, Matz LM, Buffington SA, Diet-induced dysbiosis of the maternal gut microbiome in early life programming of neurodevelopmental disorders, Neuroscience Research (2021), doi:

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