Background: Prebiotics are substrates selectively utilized by host microorganisms to confer health benefits. The potential of prebiotics to decrease body weight in overweight/obese individuals was suggested by some clinical and animal studies. However, these studies were based on relatively small sample sizes and the precise effects of prebiotic products have not yet been evaluated. Therefore, the present meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was designed to comprehensively assess the effects of prebiotic products on overweight and obese individuals.
Methods: PubMed, EMBASE and Cochrane Library were searched to identify RCT investigating the effects of prebiotic products on overweight and obese individuals. We calculated the pooled weighted mean difference (WMD) to assess the effects of prebiotic products on body mass index (BMI), body weight, fat mass and inflammatory biomarkers.
Results: Twelve RCTs with a total of 535 overweight and obese individuals were enrolled. Compared with placebo, prebiotic products decreased C reactive protein (WMD, -1.06 mg/L; 95%CI, -1.72 to -0.40; p=0.002), tumour necrosis factor-α(WMD, -0.64 pg/mL; 95%CI, -1.11 to -0.18; p=0.006) and other inflammatory markers, such as interleukin-1β，lipopolysaccharide (p<0.05); whereas no reductions in BMI (WMD, -0.20 kg/m2; 95%CI, -0.58 to 0.19; p=0.32), body weight (WMD, -0.51 kg; 95%CI, -1.18 to 0.16; p=0.14) and fat mass (WMD, 0.11 kg; 95%CI, -0.04 to 0.25; p=0.15) were observed.
Conclusion: In the present analysis, comprehensive evidence suggested that prebiotic products did not decrease adiposity parameters (BMI, body weight and body fat mass), but they could decrease the levels of systemic inflammatory biomarkers, implying adherence to prebiotic products might be a promising complementary approach to managing inflammatory states in overweight and obese individuals.