A randomized controlled trial demonstrated that the specific probiotic strain, Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis 420 (B420), had a positive effect in supporting weight management in adults affected by overweight or obesity.1

Gut microbiota is a highly active society of trillions of microorganisms located in our gastrointestinal tract, and the disruption of microbiota has been shown to be a contributing factor to the pathophysiology of obesity.2

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amount, alter the microbiota of the host and confer beneficial health effect to the host.3 After observing the anti-obesity effect of B420 in experimental animals, researchers set out to investigate the effect of B420 in weight management in humans. They also investigated whether adding a prebiotic fiber would add additional benefits.

Researchers randomized 225 healthy volunteers (BMI 28-34.9; waist-to-hip ratio of ≥0.83 for women and ≥0.88 for men) into 4 groups: placebo (12 g/day), fiber (12 g/day), B420 (1010 CFU/day), and fiber + B420 (12 g + 1010 CFU/day) for 6 months. There was no dietary and caloric restriction in this study.

The researchers found that, among those who completed the intervention with >80% product compliance and no antibiotic use, there was a 4.0% reduction in body fat mass and a 2.4% reduction in waist circumference with B420 compared with placebo. B420 also reduced energy intake by ~300 kcal/day.  Results from B420 + fiber group were similar. Further, B420 treatment was associated with a trend towards lower levels of zonulin (a potential marker of intestinal permeability) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. B420 also increased the concentration of fecal short-chain fatty acids.

The study results were published in the journal EBioMedicine (October 2016).

Why is this clinically important?

For individuals affected by overweight or obesity, maintaining weight loss is a constant challenge. In addition to dietary modification and physical exercise, new evidence also suggests the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiota in maintaining weight loss. This clinical study demonstrated that the use of a specific probiotic strain to regulate body mass is gaining traction in the research community. This targeted intervention may represent another tool that may be integrated into a diet and lifestyle management program to improve patient outcomes.

Click here to read the EBioMedicine abstract

Click here to read the full open access article from EBioMedicine


  1. Stenman LK, Lehtinen MJ, Meland N, et al. Probiotic With or Without Fiber Controls Body Fat Mass, Associated With Serum Zonulin, in Overweight and Obese Adults–Randomized Controlled Trial. EBioMedicine 2016;13:190-200.
  2. Turnbaugh PJ, Ley RE, Mahowald MA, et al. An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy harvest. Nature 2006;444.
  3. Probiotics in food. Health and nutritional properties and guidelines for evaluation – Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria: FAO/WHO; 2006.


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