Can a Probiotic Really Aid in Weight Loss?

Can a Probiotic Really Aid in Weight Loss?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that research suggests offer a variety of health benefits. When the right type of probiotic microbe is consumed in the right amount, advantages such as enhanced immune system, improved digestive function and prevention of urinary tract infections have been reported. The list of benefits goes on, but claims of probiotic-induced weight loss have not been a big part of the discussion since research on the topic is limited.   Bariatric Advantage®, is offering a product called FloraVantage Control Capsules that they claim “...are formulated with a targeted probiotic, Bifidobacterium lactis B-420™, that helps control body fat and weight.”1 This product is marketed primarily to the bariatric community, so of course these claims are enticing. But, is FloraVantage Control really able to deliver on such assertions? Let’s consider what the science says…   Only one human model research study2 has been conducted, to our knowledge. It looked at the effectiveness of the probiotic bacteria B420, with and without a fiber supplement, in reducing body fat mass and other weight-related parameters. Changes in fat mass were measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). 225 healthy overweight adults (BMI range 28.0-34.9) were randomized into four groups for the study, which is summarized in the table below.  

Treatment Type Number of Participants Who Completed the 6-month Study Per Protocol
B420 1010 CFU/d, once per day mixed in smoothie drink Probiotic 24
Polydextrose fiber 12 g once per day mixed in smoothie drink Prebiotic 36
B420 1010 CFU/d and Polydextrose fiber 12 g once per day mixed in smoothie drink Synbiotic 37
Placebo once per day mixed in smoothie drink Control 36

  After a 6-month intervention, the only significant findings included: • Only the B420 plus fiber supplements group showed a reduction in total body fat mass compared to the placebo group, resulting in an average difference of approximately 3-lbs or a 3.3% weight loss in 6 months. The change in reduction of total body fat mass was reported in about 10% of the original study group of 225. The group that received B420 alone, which is what Bariatric Advantage says FloraVantage Control contains, showed ‘trend towards a reduction in body fat,’ but the findings were not statistically significant. Factor analysis of the B420 group compared to placebo showed a 2.4% difference in the change in waist circumference (P=0.004). The average difference was 1 inch reduction in waist circumference over 6 months.   • Further analysis was done to evaluate the independent effects of B420 and the fiber supplement, respectively. Some differences were noted in the B420 group versus the placebo group for changes in total body fat mass, trunk fat mass and abdominal mass. The Fiber supplement alone had no independent effects.   Experts suggest a potential for B420 to be a complementary therapy for weight management. However, the product claims that FloraVantage Control will control body fat, body weight, abdominal fat and reduce waist circumference could be misleading for the consumer. Would a 3-lb weight loss and 1 inch reduction in waist circumference over 6 months be considered a successful weight management intervention? Clearly, more definitive studies are needed to quantify the potential of Bifidobacterium lactis B-420 to aid in weight loss, so that consumers can make an educated decision about whether it’s right for them.   References 1., 8/31/17, 11:30 am ET 2. Stenman, LK, Lehtinen,MJ, Meland, al., Probiotic with or without fiber controls body fat mass, associated with serum zonulin, in overweight and obese Adults—Randomized Controlled Trial. EBioMedicine. 2016;13:190-200.

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