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When children take 8 g inulin daily their fat layers stop growing

Children - and maybe also adults who want to gain weight but build up as little body fat as possible - can halt the growth of their fat mass by taking 8 g inulin daily. Inulin is a prebiotic - a food fibre that beneficial bacteria feed on in the gut.

Canadian nutritionists at the University of Calgary gave 22 overweight and obese children aged 7-12 a couple of grams of inulin fibre every day for 16 weeks. The researchers used Synergy-1, a product manufactured by the German company Beneo. [] Beneo did not fund the study.

The participants were given 4 g inulin per day for two weeks. After that the researchers increased the dose to 8 g per day.

A control group of 20 overweight and obese children were given 3.3 g maltodextrin every day, which contained the same amount of energy as 8 g inulin. The participants dissolved the maltodextrin or the inulin in a glass of water, and drank that half an hour before their evening meal.

The supplementation led to almost no decrease in body fat, but did inhibit the growth of the children's fat layers. Because the children continued to grow normally, the supplementation did reduce their fat percentage by a little more than one percentage point.

When children take 8 g inulin daily their fat layers stop growing

The inulin fibre changed the composition of the bacteria population in the children's gut. It increased the number of largely benign Bifidobacterium at the expense of Bacteroides vulgatus. The stronger the decrease in Bacteroides vulgatus, the stronger the decrease in growth of body fat.

The researchers suspect that the shift in the bacteria population resulted in a reduction of the concentration of inflammatory factors in the blood, and as a result of this the fat percentage shrank.

"Supplementation with oligofructose-enriched inulin improved obesity outcomes in children with overweight/obesity," the researchers summarised. "Importantly, we have shown that oligofructose-enriched inulin induced specific gut bacterial shifts compared to placebo."

"The metabolic and microbial findings from this study provide a foundation for a larger clinical trial in the pediatric population. Prebiotics are inexpensive and non-invasive and therefore a plausible dietary intervention in the overweight and obese pediatric population."

Gastroenterology. 2017 Jun 3. pii: S0016-5085(17)35698-6. [Epub ahead of print].

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