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Originally published February 23 2008

Prebiotics Prevent Excessive Weight Gain in Teenagers

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Daily supplements of certain prebiotics given at the right time in development may have long-lasting benefits for adolescents' healthy body weight and body fat ratio, according to a study conducted at Baylor College of Medicine and published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food substances that encourage the development and growth of certain bacteria in the colon.

Researchers divided 97 healthy, non-obese adolescents with an average age of 11.6 years and into two groups. One group received a mix of the prebiotics inulin and oligofructose dissolved in orange juice or milk daily, while the second group received a maltodextrin placebo dissolved in the same drinks. This intervention was carried out for one year.

The adolescents who received supplementation with prebiotics showed a smaller increase in body mass index, body weight and body fat mass than the adolescents who were treated with the placebo. On average at the end of the study period, the body mass index of those in the prebiotic group was 0.52 kilograms per meter (squared) lower than those in the placebo group. They also had an average of 0.84 kilograms less mass of total body fat.

Adolescents whose calcium intake was higher than 700 milligrams per day experienced a greater benefit from prebiotics, with a body mass index of 0.82 kilograms per square meter lower than that of those in the unsupplemented group.

These benefits appeared to be maintained at a one-year followup checkup.

The researchers noted that while the body mass index of those in the intervention group increased by a healthy amount (0.7 kilograms per square meter), the body mass index of the other adolescents increased by 1.2 kilograms per square meter -- significantly more than the 0..6 to 0.8 kilogram per square meter increase to be expected at that age. "That's because maltodextrin is not a placebo," explained consumer health advocate Mike Adams. "It's actually a form of refined sugar that promotes an increase in body mass and weight gain, as demonstrated in this study. In fact, this study says more about the harmful effects of maltodextrin than the benefits of inulin," Adams said.

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