Probiotics could be part of the solution to childhood obesity. New research from the European Society of Endocrinology has revealed that prebiotics can help obese children lose weight. For the study, children and adolescents taking two types of probiotics with a calorie-controlled diet lost more weight and had improved insulin sensitivity compared with children who simply dieted.
The findings suggest that probiotic supplements accompanied by a calorie-controlled diet may help manage obesity among young people and reduce future health risks, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Bifidobacteria are a group of probiotic bacteria that naturally occur in the gut microbiome and help with preventing infection from other bacteria, such as E.coli. These beneficial bacteria also help with the digestion of carbohydrates and dietary fiber by releasing chemicals called short-chain fatty acids, which play an important role in gut health and controlling hunger.
When individuals have low numbers of Bifidobacteria, this may impair digestion and affect food intake, causing weight gain. On the other hand, previous studies indicated that probiotic supplementation with Bifidobacteria could help restore the composition of the gut microbiome, promoting weight loss.
Dr. Flavia Prodam and her team set out to investigate weight loss and gut microbiota composition among obese children who were treated with Bifidobacteria while on a controlled diet.
The study was focused on 100 young people between the ages of 6 and 18 who were randomly given either a placebo or probiotics Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and Bifidobacterium breve B632 for 8 weeks.
The results of clinical, biochemical, and stool sample analyses revealed that children who had taken probiotics had a reduction in waist circumference, BMI, insulin resistance, and E.coli in their gut. “Probiotic supplements are frequently given to people without proper evidence data. These findings start to give evidence of the efficacy and safety of two probiotic strains in treating obesity in a younger population,” said Dr. Prodam.
“The next step for our research is to identify patients that could benefit from this probiotic treatment, with a view to creating a more personalised weight-loss strategy. We also want to decipher more clearly the role of diet and probiotics on microbiome composition. This could help us to understand how the microbiota is different in young people with obesity.”
The research was presented at the virtual meeting ECE 2020.