Probiotic supplements ‘may help obese children lose weight’

By Nina Massey, PA Science Correspondent

Probiotic supplements may help obese children lose weight, a new study suggests.

Scientists say the supplements may improve the metabolic health of obese children who are following a diet and exercise plan.

Research presented at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology meeting indicates probiotic supplements can also improve the risk of future metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Professor Rui-Min Chen and colleagues at Fuzhou Children’s Hospital of Fujian Province, China, conducted a randomised, double-blind trial of their effects on the health of obese children, aged six to 14-years-old.

In the small study, all 54 participants were following a reduced-calorie diet combined with an exercise regime.

They were split into two randomised groups – one of 30 who were treated with probiotics, and a placebo control group of 24.

Their body weight, blood lipid levels, blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and inflammatory markers, were measured before and at the end of the 12-week study.

Researchers found the children treated with probiotics lost significantly more weight and had lower lower levels of markers that indicate poor metabolic health.

Prof Chen said: “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.

But the professor acknowledged more work is needed to confirm the findings, and that the research was limited by the small number of participants, and by being based on one area.

Prof Chen added: “Further investigation is needed before any medical recommendations can be made.”