Probiotic supplements can improve body mass index (BMI), inflammatory markers, and glycolipid metabolism in obese children who are following a diet and exercise plan, according to results presented at the 58th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting, held September 19 to 21, 2019, in Vienna, Austria.

Although some studies have found that probiotics can help with health and weight loss in adults, this is the first study to look at the effects of probiotics on obese children.

The study included 54 obese children aged 6 to 14 years. All participants were treated with reduced calorie intake and increased physical activity for 12 weeks, and some participants were randomly assigned to receive probiotic capsules containing Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus. The researchers measured anthropometric features, inflammatory cytokines, blood lipids, and fasting blood glucose at baseline and at the end of the study period.

For the 30 participants randomly assigned to the probiotic group, the mean age was 9.88±1.79 years, and the mean BMI was 25.73±3.71 kg/m2. For the 24 participants randomly assigned to placebo, the mean age was 9.60±2.07 years, and the mean BMI was 25.35±3.57 kg/m2.

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The results indicated that participants in the probiotic group had significantly greater improvements in BMI, inflammatory markers (interleukin 6, lipopolysaccharide binding protein, and tumor necrosis factor α), triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, insulin, and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance compared with those in the placebo group (P <.05 for all).

The researchers cautioned that these results need to be confirmed in larger trials before any medical recommendations are made.

“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,” said lead study author Rui-Min Chen.

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Reference

Chen R, Ai Z, Yang X, Zhang Y, Yuan X. Effects of probiotics intake on obese children. Presented at: 58th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting; September 19-21, 2019; Vienna, Austria. Poster P1-191.