Prebiotics reduce body fat in overweight children

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that promote good bacteria in the gut, unlike probiotics, which introduce new bacteria into the system. In this study, doctors gave 42 overweight or obese children, age 7 to 12, a daily dose (8 g/day) of the prebiotic oligofructose-enriched inulin, or a placebo.

After 16 weeks, the kids on prebiotics had lost 3.1 percent of body weight compared to a 0.5 percent gain for placebo. They had 2.4 percent less body fat compared to a half-percent gain for placebo, and saw a 3.8 percent decrease in trunk fat—fat around the belly—compared to 0.3 percent less for placebo.

The kids on inulin saw an increase in bifidobacterium, a beneficial probiotic, and lower levels of a bacteria linked to obesity. The inulin group also had 15 percent lower levels of a sign of inflammation (interleukin-6), and a 19 percent decrease in triglyceride levels. Doctors said the findings suggest the placebo group would gain 18 pounds annually compared to a more normal seven pounds for prebiotics.


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