Effects of isolated soluble fiber supplementation on body weight, glycemia, and insulinemia in adults with overweight and obesity: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Dec;106(6):1514-1528. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.117.163246. Epub 2017 Nov 1.


Background: There is strong epidemiologic evidence that dietary fiber intake is protective against overweight and obesity; however, results of intervention studies have been mixed. Soluble fiber beneficially affects metabolism, and fiber supplementation may be a feasible approach to improve body composition and glycemia in adults with overweight and obesity.Objective: We evaluated randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of isolated soluble fiber supplementation in overweight and obese adults on outcomes related to weight management [body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2), body weight, percentage of body fat, and waist circumference] and glucose and insulin metabolism (homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance and fasting insulin) through a systematic review and meta-analysis.Design: We searched PubMed, Web of Science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature and Cochrane Library databases. Eligible studies were RCTs that compared isolated soluble fiber with placebo treatments without energy-restriction protocols. Random-effects models were used to estimate pooled effect sizes and 95% CIs. Meta-regressions were performed to assess outcomes in relation to the intervention duration, fiber dose, and fiber type. Publication bias was assessed via Begg's and Egger's tests and funnel plot inspection.Results: Findings from 12 RCTs (n = 609 participants) from 2 to 17 wk of duration are summarized in this review. Soluble fiber supplementation reduced BMI by 0.84 (95% CI: -1.35, -0.32; P = 0.001), body weight by 2.52 kg (95% CI: -4.25, -0.79 kg; P = 0.004), body fat by 0.41% (95% CI: -0.58%, -0.24%; P < 0.001), fasting glucose by 0.17 mmol/L (95% CI: -0.28, -0.06 mmol/L; P = 0.002), and fasting insulin by 15.88 pmol/L (95% CI: -29.05, -2.71 pmol/L; P = 0.02) compared with the effects of placebo treatments. No publication bias was identified. Considerable between-study heterogeneity was observed for most outcomes.Conclusions: Isolated soluble fiber supplementation improves anthropometric and metabolic outcomes in overweight and obese adults, thereby indicating that supplementation may improve fiber intake and health in these individuals. However, the interpretation of these findings warrants caution because of the considerable between-study heterogeneity. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03003897.

Keywords: body composition; glucose; insulin; meta-analysis; soluble fiber supplementation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Insulin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03003897