Prebiotics trim down body fat and alter intestinal microbiota in overweight, obese children
Prebiotic intake may improve obesity outcomes in children, with a recent study showing that supplementation with oligofructose-enriched inulin selectively alters the intestinal microbiota and significantly reduces body weight, body fat, trunk fat, and serum level of interleukin 6 (IL6) in overweight or obese children.
The study randomized 42 children aged 7 to 12 years who were overweight or obese (>85th percentile of body mass index) but otherwise healthy to receive either oligofructose-enriched inulin (OI; 8 g/day; n=22) or maltodextrin placebo (controls; isocaloric dose; n=20) once daily for 16 weeks. Fat mass and lean mass were measured by dual-energy-x-ray absorptiometry. Parameters including height, weight and waist circumference were measured at baseline and every 4 weeks thereafter until study completion.
Blood samples collected at baseline and week 16 were analysed for lipids, cytokines, lipopolysaccharide and insulin. Bile acids from faecal samples obtained at the same time points were profiled using high-performance liquid chromatography, while the microbiota composition was examined using 16S rRNA sequencing and quantitative PCR. The primary outcome was change in percent body fat from baseline to week 16.
Compared with controls, the OI group demonstrated significant reductions in body weight z score (–3.1 vs +0.5 percent), percent body fat (–2.4 vs +0.05 percent), percent trunk fat (–3.8 vs –0.3 percent) and IL6 levels (–15 vs +25 percent in controls) after 16 weeks. Moreover, children who consumed OI also had a significant decrease in serum triglycerides (–19 percent).
On quantitative PCR, a significant increase in Bifidobacterium spp. was seen in the OI group vs controls. Likewise, 16S rRNA sequencing revealed significant increases in species of the genus Bifidobacterium and decreases in Bacteroides vulgatus in children who consumed OI. In faecal samples, primary bile acid levels rose in the placebo group but not in the OI group.
The present data suggest that OI can induce specific gut bacterial shifts as compared with placebo, researchers said.
“The metabolic and microbial findings from this study provide a foundation for a larger clinical trial in the paediatric population. Prebiotics are inexpensive and noninvasive and therefore a plausible dietary intervention in the overweight and obese paediatric population,” they added.