Functional food properties of non-digestible oligosaccharides: a consensus report from the ENDO project (DGXII AIRII-CT94-1095)

Br J Nutr. 1999 Feb;81(2):121-32. doi: 10.1017/s0007114599000252.


This paper results from the final phase of the ENDO project (DGXII AIRII-CT94-1095), a European Commission-funded project on non-digestible oligosaccharides (NDO). All participants in the programme met to perform a consensus exercise on the possible functional food properties of NDO. Topics studied during the project (including a workshop on probiotics and prebiotics) and related aspects, for which considerable evidence has been generated recently, were evaluated on the basis of existing published scientific evidence. There was a general consensus that: (1) there is strong evidence for a prebiotic effect of NDO in human subjects. A prebiotic effect was defined as a food-induced increase in numbers and/or activity predominantly of bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria in the human large intestine; (2) there is strong evidence for the impact that NDO have on bowel habit; (3) there is promising evidence that consumption of inulin-type fructans may result in increased Ca absorption in man; (4) there are preliminary indications that inulin-type fructans interact with the functioning of lipid metabolism; (5) there is preliminary evidence in experimental animals of a preventive effect against colon cancer. Human nutrition studies are needed to substantiate these findings. It was concluded that the nutritional properties of NDO may prove to be a key issue in nutritional research in the future.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colon / metabolism*
  • Colon / microbiology
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism
  • European Union
  • Feces
  • Fermentation
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Minerals / metabolism
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism*
  • Probiotics
  • Rats


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Minerals
  • Oligosaccharides