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BMJ Open. 2019 Mar 30;9(3):e017995. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017995.

Impact of bacterial probiotics on obesity, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease related variables: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Author information

Danone Nutricia Research, Palaiseau, France.
BGStats Consulting, Vienna, Austria.
Mannheimer Institut fur Public Health, Ruprecht Karls Universitat Heidelberg, Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.
Nutrition Department, Pitie-Salpêtrière hospital, Institute of Cardiometabolism and Nutrition, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France.
Clinical Research Center Kiel, Johannes Gutenberg Universitat Universitatsmedizin, Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany.
Sorbonne Université, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), NutriOmiCs team, UMR S 1269, Paris, France.
Contributed equally



To systematically review the effect of oral intake of bacterial probiotics on 15 variables related to obesity, diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


Systematic review and meta-analysis.


Medline, EMBASE and COCHRANE from 1990 to June 2018.


Randomised controlled trials (≥14 days) excluding hypercholesterolaemia, alcoholic liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome and children <3 years.


One hundred and five articles met inclusion criteria, representing 6826 subjects. In overweight but not obese subjects, probiotics induced improvements in: body weight (k=25 trials, d=-0.94 kg mean difference, 95% CI -1.17 to -0.70, I²=0.0%), body mass index (k=32, d=-0.55 kg/m², 95% CI -0.86 to -0.23, I²=91.9%), waist circumference (k=13, d=-1.31 cm, 95% CI -1.79 to -0.83, I²=14.5%), body fat mass (k=11, d=-0.96 kg, 95% CI -1.21 to -0.71, I²=0.0%) and visceral adipose tissue mass (k=5, d=-6.30 cm², 95% CI -9.05 to -3.56, I²=0.0%). In type 2 diabetics, probiotics reduced fasting glucose (k=19, d=-0.66 mmol/L, 95% CI -1.00 to -0.31, I²=27.7%), glycated haemoglobin (k=13, d=-0.28 pp, 95% CI -0.46 to -0.11, I²=54.1%), insulin (k=13, d=-1.66 mU/L, 95% CI -2.70 to -0.61, I²=37.8%) and homeostatic model of insulin resistance (k=10, d=-1.05 pp, 95% CI -1.48 to -0.61, I²=18.2%). In subjects with fatty liver diseases, probiotics reduced alanine (k=12, d=-10.2 U/L, 95% CI -14.3 to -6.0, I²=93.50%) and aspartate aminotransferases (k=10, d=-9.9 U/L, 95% CI -14.1 to -5.8, I²=96.1%). These improvements were mostly observed with bifidobacteria (Bifidobacterium breve, B. longum), Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus and lactobacilli (Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. delbrueckii) containing mixtures and influenced by trials conducted in one country.


The intake of probiotics resulted in minor but consistent improvements in several metabolic risk factors in subjects with metabolic diseases.




bifidobacterium; diabetes; lactobacillus; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; obesity; probiotics

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: HK and JMF are employees of Danone Nutricia Research; BG received funding from Danone Research; JS received consultancy fees from Danone Research, is presently member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Actial SRL and acted as expert for Actial in a court hearing ; KC, MMS and SR have a collaborative agreement with Danone Research.

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