Probiotic pair may improve insulin sensitivity in obese kids & teens: RCT

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© newannyart / Getty Images
© newannyart / Getty Images

Related tags: Probiotics, Insulin sensitivity, Obesity

A combination of two Bifidobacteria strains may exert beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity in obese children and adolescents, says a new study from Italy.

Eight weeks of supplementation with Bifidobacterium breve​ BR03 and B. breve​ B632 led to significantly improved insulin sensitivity under fasting conditions and after an oral glucose tolerance test, according to data published in Clinical Nutrition.

On the other hand, no differences between the probiotic group and the placebo group were observed for weight loss, cytokine levels, nor for GLP1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1), reported researchers from the University of Piemonte Orientale, the University of Bologna, the University of Verona, and Probiotical Research Srl.

“To our knowledge, this is the first RCT administering two strains of B. breve to children and adolescents with obesity,”​ they wrote.

“The study demonstrated that 8 weeks of this intervention was safe, well-tolerated, and efficacious in improving insulin sensitivity and supporting weight loss. The functionality of microbiota seems to influence the metabolic answer to the probiotics, suggesting that tailored probiotic supplementations could optimize responses.”

Study details

The new study included 101 children and teens aged between six and 18, all of whom had obesity and insulin-resistance. The participants were randomly assigned to receiver either the probiotic combination (two billion CFUs of B. breve​ BR03 and B. breve​ B632 in a 1:1 ratio) or placebo for eight weeks. After this, the children and teens underwent a four-week ‘washout’ period (no intervention) before crossing over to the other group. All of the participants completed the first part of the study, while 82 completed both phases. The researchers limited their analysis to the first eight weeks of the study.

Results of the cross-over, double-blind, randomized control trial (BIFI-OBESE trial) indicated that the probiotic combination was associated with improved fasting insulin sensitivity and during oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), compared to the placebo.

“This [improvement] was achieved even though subjects in the probiotic arm were less metabolically compromised at baseline,” ​wrote the researchers. “The loss of insulin sensitivity is one of the first pathological events resulting in the development of glucose alterations up to type 2 diabetes, but also in other metabolic impairments. The improvement of insulin sensitivity is one of the main targets of obesity management in the attempt to maintain a healthy phenotype and reduce cardiovascular risk.”

The researchers said that future studies are needed to confirm and expand the findings, “to pave the way for more successful interventions for obesity and co-morbidities.”

Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2021.06.002
“Supplementation with​ Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and B632 strains improved insulin sensitivity in children and adolescents with obesity in a cross-over, randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial”
Authors: A. Solito, et al.

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