Probiotics: How Effective Are They in the Fight against Obesity?

Nutrients. 2019 Jan 24;11(2):258. doi: 10.3390/nu11020258.


Obesity has been associated with structural and functional changes in the gut microbiota. The abundance in, and diversity of, certain bacteria may favor energy harvest and metabolic pathways leading to obesity. Therefore, gut microbiota has become a potential target that can be manipulated to obtain optimal health. Probiotics have been shown to influence the composition of the gut microbiota, improve gut integrity, and restore the microbial shifts characteristic of obesity. Based on physical and biochemical parameters, metabolic and inflammatory markers, and alterations in gut microbe diversity, animal studies revealed beneficial results in obese models whereas the results in humans are sparse and inconsistent. Thus, the purpose of this review is to present evidence from animal studies and human clinical trials demonstrating the effects of various probiotic strains and their potential efficacy in improving obesity and associated metabolic dysfunctions. Furthermore, the review discusses current gaps in our understanding of how probiotics modulate gut microflora to protect against obesity. Finally, we propose future studies and methodological approaches that may shed light on the challenges facing the scientific community in deciphering the host⁻bacteria interaction in obesity.

Keywords: adiposity; bifidobacterium; inflammation; lactobacillus; microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus
  • Mice
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Probiotics*
  • Rats