Gut microbiome composition in obese and non-obese persons: a systematic review and meta-analysis


  • M. Pinart
  • A. Dötsch
  • K. Schlicht
  • M. Laudes
  • J. Bouwman
  • S.K. Forslund
  • T. Pischon
  • K. Nimptsch


  • Nutrients


  • Nutrients 14 (1): 12


  • Whether the gut microbiome in obesity is characterized by lower diversity and altered composition at the phylum or genus level may be more accurately investigated using high-throughput sequencing technologies. We conducted a systematic review in PubMed and Embase including 32 cross-sectional studies assessing the gut microbiome composition by high-throughput sequencing in obese and non-obese adults. A significantly lower alpha diversity (Shannon index) in obese versus non-obese adults was observed in nine out of 22 studies, and meta-analysis of seven studies revealed a non-significant mean difference (−0.06, 95% CI −0.24, 0.12, I(2) = 81%). At the phylum level, significantly more Firmicutes and fewer Bacteroidetes in obese versus non-obese adults were observed in six out of seventeen, and in four out of eighteen studies, respectively. Meta-analyses of six studies revealed significantly higher Firmicutes (5.50, 95% 0.27, 10.73, I(2) = 81%) and non-significantly lower Bacteroidetes (−4.79, 95% CI −10.77, 1.20, I(2) = 86%). At the genus level, lower relative proportions of Bifidobacterium and Eggerthella and higher Acidaminococcus, Anaerococcus, Catenibacterium, Dialister, Dorea, Escherichia-Shigella, Eubacterium, Fusobacterium, Megasphera, Prevotella, Roseburia, Streptococcus, and Sutterella were found in obese versus non-obese adults. Although a proportion of studies found lower diversity and differences in gut microbiome composition in obese versus non-obese adults, the observed heterogeneity across studies precludes clear answers.