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Prebiotics for obesity: a small light on the horizon?
  1. Herbert Tilg1,
  2. Antonio Gasbarrini2
  1. 1Department of Internal Medicine I, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  2. 2Department of Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine, Gemelli Hospital—Catholic University, Rome, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Herbert Tilg, Department of Internal Medicine I, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology & Metabolism and Christian Doppler Research Laboratory for Gut Inflammation, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck 6020, Austria; herbert.tilg{at}i-med.ac.at

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The gastrointestinal tract holds a very complex and diverse microbial community which is predominantly bacterial. This human gut microbiota is believed to consist of at least 1014 bacteria, composed of more than 1000 species. Their microbial inhabitants play a major role in metabolic processes, for example, energy extraction from food, and can nowadays be considered as probably the major environmental factor linking dietary factors with the host.1 The association between the microbiota and metabolic inflammation as observed in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes is becoming clearer and increasingly also supported by clinical evidence.2 ,3 Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that when consumed in sufficient amounts selectively modulate growth and activity of certain members of the microbiota.4 Certain prebiotics such as inulin or trans-galacto-oligosaccharides which are resistant to gastric digestion and hydrolysis are able to positively affect the microbiota. Most effects of prebiotics on metabolic functions have so far been gained from various animal studies.5

Targeting the gut microbiota may be a promising treatment concept in obesity and metabolic syndrome. Dewulf and colleagues address such an aspect by studying the prebiotic composition dietary inulin-type fructans (ITF) …

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