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Probiotic supplements may enhance weight loss in obese children

Probiotic supplements may enhance weight loss and reduce the risk of future metabolic conditions including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, a new study has suggested.  

The small trial, presented today at the 58th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting, found that obese children following a reduced calorie-diet and exercise plan lost significantly more weight if they were also treated with probiotic supplements. 

The randomised, double-blind study looking at probiotic effects on the health of 54 obese children aged 6-14 years old also found that children treated with probiotic supplements had lower levels of markers that indicate poor metabolic health.  

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.  

Professor Rui-Mun Chen, who conducted the study with colleagues from Fuzhou Children’s Hospital of Fujian Province, China, said that ‘more work is needed to confirm these findings’. 

He continued: ‘Our number of participants was small and limited to the Fuijan 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 analyse how they alter the gut, with the aim of better understanding the link between gut bacteria and obesity risk. 

Professor Chen continued: ‘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.’  

Probiotics are live organisms thought to have health benefits through improving or restoring the diversity of our gut bacteria.  

Some studies have shown that probiotic consumption may promote health and weight loss in adults, but its effectiveness has not been fully investigated in obese children.