Support for use of probiotics in obesity and metabolic disease is growing. Individual studies reveal that rectifying gut microbe disturbances (dysbiosis) can benefit such patients. However, broad population studies are not as available.
To that end, researchers in Portugal recently looked at one large cross-sectional study to assess population-based prevalence of probiotic intake and metabolic diseases.
The goal was to determine a link between probiotic ingestion with obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. The data set used was from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during the years 1999-2014. Probiotic Ingestion, Obesity, and Metabolic-Related Disorders: Results from NHANES, 1999-2014 appeared in Nutrients journal in June of 2019.
Eva Lau and colleagues included 38,802 adults. Of these, 13% reported probiotic ingestion which was defined as consumption of yogurt or a probiotic supplement during the 24-hour dietary recall or during the Dietary Supplement Use 30-Day questionnaire.
The probiotic group revealed:
- Lower rates of obesity (determined by Body Mass index)
- Lower rates of hypertension (both systolic and diastolic measurements)
- Lower triglycerides
- Higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
Importantly, this data does not infer a causal relationship. Perhaps a preponderance of those tens of thousands of adults who ate yogurt or tool probiotic supplements were also mindful of diet and exercise management to achieve healthy weights.
Other reviewers nevertheless have noted the influence of probiotics on obesity and its consequences in vitro, in vivo, and in human clinical studies. A 2019 paper in BioMed Research International journal titled A Review on Role of Microbiome in Obesity and Antiobesity Properties of Probiotic Supplements posited that:
… the antiobese activity of probiotics might be associated with their ability to alter the intestinal microbiota, remodeling of energy metabolism, alter the expression of genes related to thermogenesis, glucose metabolism, and lipid metabolism, and change the parasympathetic nerve activity.
The tools for microbe manipulation in obesity are coming into view. Soon we may know the best probiotics or synbiotics to manage obesity and its penalties.