Prebiotic supplementation improves appetite control in children with overweight and obesity: a randomized controlled trial

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr;105(4):790-799. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.140947. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


Background: Prebiotics have been shown to improve satiety in adults with overweight and obesity; however, studies in children are limited.Objective: We examined the effects of prebiotic supplementation on appetite control and energy intake in children with overweight and obesity.Design: This study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Forty-two boys and girls, ages 7-12 y, with a body mass index (BMI) of ≥85th percentile were randomly assigned to 8 g oligofructose-enriched inulin/d or placebo (maltodextrin) for 16 wk. Objective measures of appetite included energy intake at an ad libitum breakfast buffet, 3-d food records, and fasting satiety hormone concentrations. Subjective appetite ratings were obtained from visual analog scales before and after the breakfast. Children's Eating Behavior Questionnaires were also completed by caregivers.Results: Compared with placebo, prebiotic intake resulted in significantly higher feelings of fullness (P = 0.04) and lower prospective food consumption (P = 0.03) at the breakfast buffet at 16 wk compared with baseline. Compared with placebo, prebiotic supplementation significantly reduced energy intake at the week 16 breakfast buffet in 11- and 12-y-olds (P = 0.04) but not in 7- to 10-y-olds. Fasting adiponectin (P = 0.04) and ghrelin (P = 0.03) increased at 16 wk with the prebiotic compared with placebo. In intent-to-treat analysis, there was a trend for prebiotic supplementation to reduce BMI z score to a greater extent than placebo (-3.4%; P = 0.09) and a significant -3.8% reduction in per-protocol analysis (P = 0.043).Conclusions: Independent of other lifestyle changes, prebiotic supplementation in children with overweight and obesity improved subjective appetite ratings. This translated into reduced energy intake in a breakfast buffet in older but not in younger children. This simple dietary change has the potential to help with appetite regulation in children with obesity. This trial was registered at as NCT02125955.

Keywords: appetite; dietary fiber; obesity; oligofructose-enriched inulin; pediatric; prebiotic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adiponectin / blood
  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Appetite Regulation
  • Body Mass Index
  • Breakfast
  • Child
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Feeding Behavior / drug effects
  • Female
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Humans
  • Inulin / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology
  • Overweight
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood
  • Pediatric Obesity / drug therapy
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Prebiotics*
  • Satiation
  • Satiety Response / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Adiponectin
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Ghrelin
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics
  • Inulin

Associated data


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