Psyllium supplementation in adolescents improves fat distribution & lipid profile: a randomized, participant-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41735. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041735. Epub 2012 Jul 27.


Aims: We aimed to assess the effects of psyllium supplementation on insulin sensitivity and other parameters of the metabolic syndrome in an at risk adolescent population.

Methods: This study encompassed a participant-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. Subjects were 47 healthy adolescent males aged 15-16 years, recruited from secondary schools in lower socio-economic areas with high rates of obesity. Participants received 6 g/day of psyllium or placebo for 6 weeks, with a two-week washout before crossing over. Fasting lipid profiles, ambulatory blood pressure, auxological data, body composition, activity levels, and three-day food records were collected at baseline and after each 6-week intervention. Insulin sensitivity was measured by the Matsuda method using glucose and insulin values from an oral glucose tolerance test.

Results: 45 subjects completed the study, and compliance was very high: 87% of participants took >80% of prescribed capsules. At baseline, 44% of subjects were overweight or obese. 28% had decreased insulin sensitivity, but none had impaired glucose tolerance. Fibre supplementation led to a 4% reduction in android fat to gynoid fat ratio (p = 0.019), as well as a 0.12 mmol/l (6%) reduction in LDL cholesterol (p = 0.042). No associated adverse events were recorded.

Conclusions: Dietary supplementation with 6 g/day of psyllium over 6 weeks improves fat distribution and lipid profile (parameters of the metabolic syndrome) in an at risk population of adolescent males.

Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000888268.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Placebos
  • Psyllium / administration & dosage
  • Psyllium / pharmacology*
  • Risk
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Placebos
  • Psyllium

Grant support

Starship Foundation, Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group, and New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes. We also acknowledge the Paykel Trust for long-term funding of the Maurice & Agnes Paykel Clinical Research Unit at the Liggins Institute. The psyllium suppliers (Douglas Pharmaceuticals) and the funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of this manuscript.