Unraveling the Molecular Signature of Childhood Obesity: Insights from Spectroscopic Analysis


A recent study uses Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy to study biochemical changes associated with child obesity.

Article Highlights

  • Childhood obesity is a significant concern globally, affecting millions of children in the United States alone, with prevalence varying across different demographic groups.
  • Researchers at the University of Lublin conducted a study using FT-IR spectroscopy to analyze biochemical changes associated with obesity in children.
  • The study compared data from obese and healthy children, revealing differences in lipoprotein levels, concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and glucose.
  • The research highlights the potential of FT-IR spectroscopy as a tool for early detection and monitoring of obesity-related molecular changes.

The use of Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy can unveil biochemical changes in children diagnosed with obesity, according to a recent study published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy (1).

Childhood obesity is a growing concern in the United States and several other countries. According to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 14.7 million children and adolescents have this condition, for a percentage of 19.7% of children in the United States (2). Obesity prevalence was higher among certain segments of America’s population. From 2017–2020, obesity prevalence was 26.2% among Hispanic children, 24.8% among African-American children, 16.6% among non-Hispanic white children, and 9% among non-Hispanic Asian children (2). Overall, childhood obesity is the fourth common risk factor among minors (1).

These figures have been gradually rising, which is a concerning trend, because obesity is linked to numerous other health issues, including high blood pressure and heart disease. To better understand how obesity changes children’s body, researchers at the University of Lublin, led by Joanna Depciuch, studied the molecular and structural alterations underlying this health concern (1). Their study examines the biochemical changes associated with childhood obesity, which can help pediatricians and clinicians improve interventions and preventive strategies.

Childhood obesity word cloud | Image Credit: © ibreakstock - stock.adobe.com

Childhood obesity word cloud | Image Credit: © ibreakstock - stock.adobe.com

For their study, Depciuch and her team collected data from 60 children diagnosed with obesity, and they also collected data from 43 children not afflicted with this disease. By analyzing concentrations of lipids, lipoproteins, insulin, and glucose, the researchers aimed to elucidate metabolic disparities between obese and healthy children (1).

Using FT-IR and biochemical analyses, the researchers discovered significant differences between healthy and obese children. First, children with obesity had lower levels of low-density lipoproteins and higher concentrations of high-density lipoproteins compared to healthy children. Second, the obese children in this study exhibited higher concentrations cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and glucose compared to healthy children (1).

Along with the above concentrations of lipoproteins and other molecules, the researchers used FT-IR spectroscopy to reveal other differences between the two subject groups. In the obese children, researchers observed elevated levels of lipids and proteins in the serum, accompanied by structural alterations in glucose, β-sheet, and lipids vibrations (1). Through advanced analytical techniques like principal component analysis (PCA), the researchers successfully differentiated the obesity group from controls, particularly in spectral regions corresponding to amide and lipids (1).

The study underscores the potential of FT-IR spectroscopy as a promising tool for early detection and monitoring of obesity-associated molecular changes in blood. By integrating multiple analytical methods, including biochemical assays and spectroscopic analysis, the researchers provide a comprehensive understanding of the metabolic dysregulation underlying childhood obesity (1).

Therefore, the researchers were able to increase our understanding of childhood obesity through their study. With childhood obesity rates on the rise, it will be necessary for health officials to continue the work the researchers started, figuring out ways to use the information collected to improve the well-being of future generations.


(1) Guleken, Z.; Ceylan, Z.; Cecen, S.; et al. Quantitative or Qualitative Biomolecular Changes in Blood Serum Composition Induced by Childhood Obesity: A Fourier Transform Infrared Examination. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Mol. Biomol. Spectrosc. 2024, 313, 124153. DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2024.124153

(2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Childhood Obesity Facts. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html (accessed 2024-04-25).

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