Journal article Open Access

Lactobacillus species causing obesity in humans: where is the evidence?

Lahtinen, S. J.; Davis, E.; Ouwehand, A. C.

By definition, probiotics are to provide health benefits, and are expected not to cause any adverse effects in the general population. Recently, it has been suggested that probiotics, and in particular lactobacilli are contributing to human obesity. Here, we critically review the data available on this topic. The main misconception in this hypothesis is that growth in livestock and children equals with obesity in adults. The former two are expected to grow and probiotics may, by reducing disease risk, contribute to an improved growth. It is not correct to extrapolate this growth (of all tissues) to body weight gain (growth of adipose tissue) in adults. Furthermore, when looking at animal models of obesity, it even appears the lactobacilli may potentially contribute to a reduction in body weight. Epidemiological studies lend strength to this. We therefore conclude that there is no evidence that consumption of lactobacilli or probiotics in general would contribute to obesity in humans.

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