Effects of Synbiotic Supplementation on Metabolic Syndrome Traits and Gut Microbial Profile among Overweight and Obese Hong Kong Chinese Individuals: A Randomized Trial.

Nutrients. 2023;15(19)
Full text from:

Plain language summary

Obesity is a growing issue in Hong Kong, possibility due to changing diets in recent years and a more sedentary lifestyle. The use of diet and exercise programmes have shown limited long-term effects and so other strategies need to be researched. Gut microbiota dysbiosis has emerged as a possible causative factor in the development of obesity due to its involvement in metabolism. Therefore, targeting the gut microbiota may be of benefit to individuals with obesity. This randomised control trial aimed to determine the changes in gut microbiota functions involved in the development of obesity after an 8-week dietary intervention involving increased fruit and vegetable consumption and synbiotics in individuals from Hong Kong. The participants were split into 3 groups; synbiotic only, diet only, and a combination of the two. The results showed that a combination of diet and synbiotic use had the greatest benefit for weight loss, measures of blood sugar, and blood lipids compared to baseline values. Synbiotic use also decreased Megamonas, which is a gut microbiota strain associated with increased body weight. It was concluded that a combination of increased fibre in the diet and synbiotic supplementation is more effective than either therapy alone. This study could be used by healthcare professionals to understand that diets high in fibre in combination with gut microbiota support may be of benefit to individuals with obesity. However further research would be needed to determine if this effect is restricted to this cohort of individuals.


In view of the limited evidence showing anti-obesity effects of synbiotics via modulation of the gut microbiota in humans, a randomized clinical trial was performed. Assessment of the metabolic syndrome traits and profiling of the fecal gut microbiota using 16S rRNA gene sequencing in overweight and obese Hong Kong Chinese individuals before and after dietary intervention with an 8-week increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and/or synbiotic supplementation was conducted. The selected synbiotic contained two probiotics (Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis HN019) and a prebiotic (polydextrose). Fifty-five overweight or obese individuals were randomized and divided into a synbiotic group (SG; n = 19), a dietary intervention group (DG; n = 18), and a group receiving combined interventions (DSG; n = 18). DSG showed the greatest weight loss effects and number of significant differences in clinical parameters compared to its baseline values-notably, decreases in fasting glucose, insulin, HOMA-IR, and triglycerides and an increase in HDL-cholesterol. DSG lowered Megamonas abundance, which was positively associated with BMI, body fat mass, and trunk fat mass. The results suggested that increasing dietary fiber consumption from fruits and vegetables combined with synbiotic supplementation is more effective than either approach alone in tackling obesity.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Digestive, absorptive and microbiological
Patient Centred Factors : Mediators/Gut microbiota
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Blood
Bioactive Substances : Synbiotics

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 3
Allocation concealment : No


Nutrition Evidence keywords : High fibre diet