The study was recently published in a journal called Annals of Medicine and Surgery. The research was carried out by experts from two universities in Makassar, Indonesia.
Growing, persistent problem
The rising tide of obesity has become a global problem. Although the issue has been somewhat obscured by the global pandemic, it continues. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016, of which 650 million were obese. In 2020, the WHO estimates that more than 39 million children under the age of 5 were obese. The global obesity prevalence almost tripled between 1975-2016.
Along with the rising tide of obesity, there has been a concomitant increase in diabetes. WHO statistics show that today 422 million people worldwide suffer from the disease, from which 1.6 million people die every year.
The reasons for this development are unclear and multifactorial. Isn’t it enough exercise when young people grow up in front of video screens and are consumed by handheld devices? Too much sugar and too little whole foods?
Finding a nutritional solution to the problem has been a goal of research for decades. While certain ingredients and approaches have proven to be of limited use, to date no universal and decidedly effective solution has been found, with the possible exception of ephedrine alkaloids, which have been withdrawn from the market for safety reasons.
Focus on the microbiome
But the search continues, with much recent attention paid to the state of the microbiome of obese individuals. Research has shown that overweight people have different microbiomes from those of healthy weight people. Researchers are still trying to determine whether this implies a causal relationship.
The Indonesian researchers wanted to test whether a shift in the microbiome of obese people could cause them to lose weight and improve their fasting blood sugar levels. For their placebo-controlled study, they recruited 40 younger obese participants, roughly evenly divided between men and women. The mean age was approximately 20 and the mean BMI was approximately 32. Only 16 subjects completed the full study, eight in each group.
The subjects took a placebo or a daily dose of the synbiotic food supplement Rillus, which contains 1 billion CFU of living cells, divided into Lactobacillus plantarum, Streptococcus thermophil and Bifidobacterium bifidum 2.5 mg and 480 mg of fructooligosaccharide, a prebiotic fiber. The intervention lasted 8 weeks, with a follow-up after another 4 weeks to see if any changes persisted. Both groups ate their usual diets and maintained their usual activity (or lack of it) during the test period.
Isn’t Gaining Weight Still a Gain?
The researchers observed no significant change in body weight or BMI in the test group. But the placebo group continued to gain weight during the study, an average of 3.38 kg per person. Although the researchers did not see the expected weight loss, they comforted themselves with the fact that the synbiotic group remained stable during the four-week washout period and did not regain the pace seen in the placebo group.
“Although synbiotic supplementation has not reduced body weight and BMI, obese individuals may prevent weight gain over time or take more time to lose weight. Synbiotic supplementation could lower fasting blood sugar in obese individuals before their weight and BMI were changed. These beneficial effects of a synbiotic supplement on BW, BMI and FBG in obese individuals persisted 4 weeks after the supplement was stopped. The role of synbiotics on anthropometric, body composition and metabolic parameters requires further large-scale and long-term studies, ”they concluded.
Source:Annals of Medicine and Surgery
Effects of synbiotic supplementation on body weight and fasting blood sugar levels in obesity: a randomized, placebo-controlled study
Authors: Anggeraini AS, et al.