Industry-funded study finds probiotic blend efficacy for weight loss

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

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Related tags: Probiotic, Weight

Supplementation with Lab4P, a probiotic blend of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria for at least six months, appears to contribute to a significant reduction in weight, according to UK-based scientists.

The Cultech-funded study found significant decreases in body weight (1.3kg), BMI (0.045 kg/m2), waist circumference (WC) (0.94 cm) and waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) (0.006) in favour of the probiotic.

“This exploratory study demonstrates that six months Lab4P supplementation at 50 billion colony forming units (cfu) per day significantly reduced bodyweight, BMI, waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio in an overweight/obese population with greater weight loss observed in the overweight and the female participants,”​ the study’s authors write.

“Greatest weight loss together with decreases in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels were observed in hypercholesterolaemic participants.

“Improvements in other measures such as participant-perceived quality of life (QoL) and upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) symptoms highlight the holistic benefits of the Lab4P supplementation,” ​they add.

Probiotic supplementation to address weight has long been touted as a low-risk approach to manage or lose weight, with evidence demonstrating safety and beneficial impacts that also include to metabolism and immunity.

The Lab4P probiotic blend is composed of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and Lactobacillus plantarum​, which has shown a cholesterol lowering capability and an ability to suppress diet induced weight gain in mice.

Study details

Along with colleagues from Cardiff University and Imperial College London, the team began enrolling 220 Bulgarian participants (30 to 65 years old) with BMI 25–34.9 kg/m2 to the single-centre, double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled superiority study.

The participant were either asked to take the Lab4P probiotic or placed in a matched placebo group.

The sample group took one capsule (5 × 1010 ​cfu per capsule) daily for 6 months (180 days) with participants asked to consume the supplement with food (with or without a cool drink) at any time of the day and to avoid consumption within 2 hours of any antibiotic intake.

Participants were also asked to maintain their normal diet and lifestyle throughout the study while avoiding the consumption of other probiotic supplements.

Along with decreases to body weight, BMI, WC and WtHR, the team also found greater body weight reductions in overweight subjects (1.88%) and in females (1.62%).

The greatest weight losses were among probiotic hypercholesterolaemic participants (−2.5%) alongside a significant between group reduction in small dense LDL-cholesterol (0.2 millimols per litre (mmol/L)).

Improvements in QoL and the incidence rate ratio of URTI (0.60) were recorded for the probiotic group.

“The proposed mechanisms of action for probiotic-mediated weight loss includes the modulation of the composition of the gut microbiota and the production of short chain fatty acids,” ​the study says.

“Others include the regulation of energy homeostasis and/or satiety, improved gut barrier function and the interruption of bile acid metabolism in the host. We did not detect any gross changes in the faecal microbiota in response to the probiotic.”

CVD & LDL-C link

In discussing the study’s findings, the team points out that an underlying causes of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is atherosclerosis, a vasculature disease driven by the accumulation of LDL-C in artery walls.

High circulating levels of sdLDL-C are linked to increased CVD risk (irrespective of LDL-C levels) and an increased susceptibility to obesity and metabolic syndrome, the team says, highlighting that the study recorded group reductions of sdLDL-C in excess of 17% in hypercholesterolaemic participants (SG3c).

The team also touched on the impact obesity has on the quality of life resulting from factors such as less ability to perform activities and early fatigue, increased anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

“Using a modification of an existing validated QoL questionnaire, the results indicated significant improvements in participant scores for general wellness, state of health/energy/mood but not sleep quality after three months Lab4P supplementation.

“At six months, the only difference was in general wellness,” ​they add. “QoL improvements have been seen in a study with a probiotic/herbal formulation with one study​ demonstrating improvements in quality of life associated with weight loss.

Source: Scientific Reports

Published online ahead of print: doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-60991-7

“A randomised controlled study shows supplementation of overweight and obese adults with lactobacilli and bifidobacteria reduces bodyweight and improves well-being.”

Authors: Michael, D.R., Jack, A.A., Masetti, G. et al.

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