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Recent evidence suggests that a complex interplay may exist between the gut microbiome, systemic inflammation, and the development of obesity and that by modulating the composition of the gut microbiome, prebiotics may exert beneficial effects on anthropometric outcomes and inflammatory markers in people with overweight and obesity. What do the available clinical trials say?

The study

This was a meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials that looked at the effects of prebiotics on anthropometric indices (bodyweight, BMI, and fat mass) and inflammatory biomarkers (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, C-reactive protein, and interleukin 6) in 535 people with overweight or obesity.

A wide range of different prebiotics were used, including resistant dextrin, inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, oligofructose, galacto-oligosaccharides, polydextrose, and fiber. The doses ranged between 6 and 21 grams per day.

The results

Prebiotic supplementation did not affect any of the anthropometric indices, but it did result in small improvements in tumor necrosis factor-alpha and C-reactive protein.

The risk of bias was low for most of the trials included in the meta-analysis.


There was considerable heterogeneity (variation in study methods) between trials, which reduces our confidence in the results.

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This Study Summary was published on May 4, 2021.