A study presented at the American Society for Nutrition's Scientific Sessions at Experimental Biology 2015 shows that prebiotic fiber may help regulate children's appetites.
The researchers recruited 42 children whose BMIs were above the 85th percentile. The children were randomized to receive the treatment, a prebiotic fiber, or to the placebo group who received maltodextrin, a polysaccharide. Both treatments were in powdered form and mixed with 250 mL water. The children were instructed to drink the mixture 30 min before dinner. At week 0 and week 16 the researchers collected measurements including a blood sample and subjective scales rating their appetite.
The children were taken to a breakfast buffet at start and end of the study, where they had a choice of foods. Before and after eating, children rated their appetite levels and the researchers weighed their food. The prebiotic fiber group consumed 100 calories less at the final buffet and experienced more feelings of fullness. The fiber group rated their satiety levels before the meal higher than the maltodextrin group.
"These findings are promising, showing that intake of prebiotic fiber could cause a reduction in energy intake and body weight," said Raylene Reimer, professor of kinesiology, University of Calgary. "It's one more tool to use in the obesity epidemic. As a dietary strategy it should be in the toolbox. Of course, we still have to address all food factors in a child's life. But this type of small, incremental change can make a positive impact on their health."
Moving forward, the researchers said it will be important to know what happens if you give the prebiotic to normal weight kids.