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Probiotics could help manage childhood obesity, study finds

Researchers say following a healthy diet is also crucial for the best health outcomes

Photo (c) Ankabala - Getty Images
Experts have recently found ways that probiotics can help consumers’ physical and mental health, but a new study is exploring how these bacteria can help young people stay healthy. 

According to researchers, childhood obesity is likely to be more manageable when kids follow a healthy diet and take a daily probiotic. 

“Probiotic supplements are frequently given to people without proper evidence [or] data,” said researcher Dr. Flavia Prodam. “These findings start to give evidence of the efficacy and safety of two probiotic strains in treating obesity in a younger population.” 

Encouraging healthier habits

The researchers had 100 kids between the ages of six and 18 participate in the eight-week long study. While all of the participants were instructed to follow healthy diets for the duration of the study, half of the group was given a probiotic supplement and the other half was given a placebo. At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers assessed the participants’ health outcomes to determine the best course of action for childhood obesity. 

Ultimately, the researchers found that the combination of the probiotic supplement and a healthy diet were more effective than dieting alone. The study revealed that kids who took a probiotic had improved metabolisms, lower body mass indices (BMIs), and better insulin resistance than the group who was given a placebo. 

Because of these health benefits, the researchers are hopeful that this simple intervention can be implemented more widely among young people struggling to maintain a healthy weight. While everyone reacts differently to supplements, and a healthy diet is imperative, probiotics could be beneficial in helping keep childhood obesity at bay. 

“The next step for our research is to identify patients that could benefit from this probiotic treatment, with a view to creating a more personalized weight-loss strategy,” said Dr. Prodam. “We also want to decipher more clearly the role of diet and probiotics on microbiome composition. This could help us to understand how the microbiota is different in young people with obesity.” 

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