The study, set to be presented at Experimental Biology, compared the effects of consuming prebiotic fibres or a control polysaccharide on appetite and energy intake in children – finding that a blend of probiotic fibres (oligofructose and inulin) resulted in a decreased desire to eat, increased fullness, and lower energy intakes.
"We knew that prebiotic fibre improved appetite regulation in adults, and wanted to evaluate its potential in children," explained Megan Hume from the University of Calgary – who led the study.
Hume and her co-authors suggested that prebiotic fibres have the potential to help weight management in overweight and obese children – adding that there a strong potential to use such fibres in food products.
"These findings are promising, showing that intake of prebiotic fibre could cause a reduction in energy intake and body weight," commented study senior author Professor Raylene Reimer. "It's one more tool to use in the obesity epidemic.”
“As a dietary strategy it should be in the toolbox. Of course, we still have to address all food factors in a child's life. But this type of small, incremental change can make a positive impact on their health,” she said.
Hume and her colleagues recruited 42 children with a BMI in the top 15% (above the 85th percentile) were randomized to receive either the prebiotic fibre mixed with 250 ml of water or a placebo of maltodextrin powder in water.
The children were instructed to drink the mixture 30 minutes before dinner for 16 weeks.
At week zero and week 16 Hume and colleagues collected measurements including a blood sample and subjective scales rating their appetite.
In these tests, the children were taken to a breakfast buffet where they had a choice of foods. Before and after eating each participant rated their appetite levels and the researchers weighed their food.
The study reported that those consuming the prebiotic fibre ate 100 calories less at the final buffet and experienced more feelings of fullness.
The fibre group also rated their satiety levels before the meal higher than the maltodextrin group, said the team.
Hume and her team commented that moving forward, it will also be important to know what happens when the prebiotic is given to children of normal weight kids.
Source: The FASEB Journal & Experimental Biology conference
Volume 29, Number 1, Supplement597.3, abstract available online
“Prebiotic Fiber Consumption Decreases Energy Intake in Overweight and Obese Children”
Authors: Megan Hume, et al