Over the past few years, there has been a tremendous amount of research regarding the health benefits of probiotics. One area that hasn’t been studied extensively, has been the effect of probiotics on abdominal obesity or weight loss. However, a new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Kadooka et al, 2010), explored the effects of the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri [SBT2055 (LG2055)] on abdominal adiposity, body weight, and other body measures in adults with obese tendencies.
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics?
If you’re already confused between probiotics and prebiotics, follow the previous link for a detailed definition of each respectively. Okay, now that you’ve read the previous post, we can take a look at the results of this recent study.
Again, probiotics are microbes including certain types of bacteria, yeast, and bacilli that may confer health benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that though there are plenty of fermented products such as yogurt or dietary supplements that contain probiotics, the term probiotic itself an all-encompassing term and these products may have different compositions of specific probiotics.
Basically, this means that just because a product contains probiotics, it doesn’t mean consuming that particular product will confer health benefits specific to probiotics that it does not contain. i.e. this recent study suggests that consuming fermented milk containing Lactobacillus gasseri will promote weight loss, but that doesn’t mean that you can sit down to a six-pack of Activia Yogurt and expect to get your weight loss on. Activia contains Bifidobacterium animalis, which is a different probiotic.
Okay, now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag, let’s take a look at the actual study. 87 participants with body mass indexes ranging from approximately 24-31 were randomized to consuming a placebo (fermented milk) or fermented milk containing Lactobacillus gasseri. In total, they consumed 200g per day of either type of fermented milk for a total of 12 weeks.
- significant reduction in abdominal and visceral fat by an average of -4.6% and -3.3% respectively in the active fermented milk group.
- significant changes in body weight (-1.4%), BMI (-1.5%), waist (-1.8%), and hip (1.5%).
- no statistically significant changes in any of these parameters in the control group.
- No clinically significant side effects were observed in this study
- The active FM (with probiotic) did not cause changes to cholesterol profiles or blood pressure.
Of these parameters, the reduction in visceral fat stands out because an excess accumulation of visceral fat is primarily involved in metabolic disorders, and visceral fat is more strongly correlated with most metabolic risk factors than subcutaneous fat (Fox et al., 2007).
We also think that the reduction in waist circumference is important because waist circumference is involved in a useful measure of fat distribution and is closely correlated with atherogenic lipid profiles (Terry et al., 1989).
Overall, these study results are fairly exciting given that they were able to achieve reductions in abdominal and visceral fat without any type of concurrent exercise involved. The actual amount of weight loss achieved in this trial in terms of changes in body mass index (BMI), or change in body weight was not spectacular though.
More importantly, where do you find a fermented milk product that contains this probiotic? I personally am not sure, so if you’re aware of any suppliers, let me know…
- Kadooka Y, Sato M, Imaizumi K, Ogawa A, Ikuyama K, Akai Y, Okano M, Kagoshima M, Tsuchida T. Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;64(6):636-43. Epub 2010 Mar 10