Probiotic supplements may enhance weight loss and improve the metabolic health of obese children following a diet and exercise plan, according to research presented today at the 58th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. The findings of this small trial suggest that probiotic supplements may help obese children lose bodyweight and also reduce their risk of future metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Obesity in childhood and adolescence represents a major, growing, health problem worldwide, which can lead to the development of expensive, serious, and debilitating complications, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Probiotics are live microorganisms thought to have health benefits by improving or restoring the diversity of our gut bacteria, also known as the microbiome. Although some studies have reported the benefits of probiotic consumption for health and weight loss in adults, its effectiveness has not been fully investigated in obese children.
In this study, Professor Rui-Min Chen and colleagues at Fuzhou Children’s Hospital of Fujian, China, conducted a randomized, double-blind trial of probiotic effects on the health of obese children, aged 6-14 years old. All 54 study participants were following a reduced-calorie diet combined with an exercise regime. Their body weight and markers of metabolic health (blood lipid levels, blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and inflammatory markers) were measured before and at the end of the 12-week study. Children treated with probiotic supplements lost significantly more weight and had lower levels of markers that indicate poor metabolic health.
Prof Chen states, “Our findings suggest that probiotic supplementation may help with weight loss and improve metabolic health in obese children, and that this may be an effective strategy for the prevention and treatment of obesity in the future.”
Although Prof Chen, cautions, “More work is needed to confirm these findings, our number of participants was small and limited to the Fujian area. Other studies have also reported no benefits from probiotic treatment in obese children but these were much shorter in duration. So, further investigation is needed before any medical recommendations can be made.”
The team now plan to conduct larger trials examining the effect of probiotics on the metabolic health of obese children, and to extend their investigations to analyze how they alter the gut, with the aim of better understanding the link between gut bacteria and obesity risk.
Prof Chen comments, “Childhood obesity is a growing problem that needs early intervention to prevent long-term health problems; microbiome-based treatments could be a new and more effective strategy for tackling this serious epidemic.”
Effect of Probiotics intake on obese children
Ruimin Chen, Zhuanzhuan Ai, Xiaohong Yang, Ying Zhang, Xin Yuan
Fuzhou Children’s Hospital of Fujian Province, Fuzhou, China
Background: Childhood obesity is a worrisome public health issue today. Recent studies conducted in adult populations and animals have suggested the beneficial effects of probiotics on obesity, while, the experience is limited in the pediatric age group and the results are conflicted.
Object: The primary objective was to determine the effect of probiotic consumption on weight change. The secondary objective was to determine the effect of the treatment on levels of inflammatory cytokines, serum lipid profile, and glucose metabolism.
Methods: This randomized double-blind trial was conducted among obese children aged 6 to 14 years old. They were randomly allocated to receive probiotic capsules (containing Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) for 12 weeks. All of them were treated with reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity. The anthropometric, inflammatory cytokines, blood lipids and fasting blood glucose, insulin were measured at both baseline and at the end of the study.
1) A total of 54 obese children participated in the study. 30 were randomized to the probiotic group (19 boys and 11 girls, mean age 9.88±1.79 years, mean BMI 25.73±3.71 kg/m2) and 24 were randomized to the placebo control group (15 boys and 9 girls, mean age 9.60±2.07 years, mean BMI 25.35±3.57 kg/m2).
2) Compared to the control group, probiotic consumption significantly reduced Body Mass Index (BMI), inflammatory markers (interleukin-6, lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, tumor necrosis factor α), triglyceride, fasting blood glucose, insulin and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Receiving 12 weeks of probiotic supplement can improve body mass index as well as components of inflammatory and glycolipid metabolism. Additionally, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first study showing the effects of probiotics on lipopolysaccharide-binding protein in obese children.