Accumulating evidence suggests a relationship between the gut microbiota and the development of obesity, indicating the potential of probiotics as a therapeutic approach. Bifidobacterium breve B-3 has been shown to exert anti-obesity effects in high-fat diet-induced obese mice. In the present study, the anti-obesity effects of the consumption of B. breve B-3 by healthy pre-obese (25 ≤ BMI < 30) adults were investigated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (trial registration: UMIN-CTR No. 000023919; preregistered on September 2, 2016). Eighty participants were randomized to receive placebo or B. breve B-3 capsules (2 × 1010 CFU/day) daily for 12 weeks. The visceral fat area significantly increased at weeks 4 and 8 in the placebo group only; no significant change was observed in the B-3 group. Body fat mass and percent body fat were significantly lower in the B-3 group than in the placebo group at weeks 8 and 12 (p<0.05, ANCOVA adjusted with baseline values). Although no significant differences were observed in blood parameters between the groups, the intake of B. breve B-3 slightly decreased triglyceride levels and improved HDL cholesterol from the baseline. No serious adverse effects were noted in either group. These results suggest that the probiotic strain B. breve B-3 has potential as a functional food ingredient to reduce body fat in healthy pre-obese individuals.
Keywords: Bifidobacterium breve; body fat reduction; pre-obese; randomized controlled trial.