Prebiotics in obesity

Carnahan, S. and Balzer, A. and Panchal, S. K. and Brown, L. (2014) Prebiotics in obesity. Panminerva Medica, 56 (2). pp. 165-175. ISSN 0031-0808


Obesity was probably rare in ancient times, with the current increase starting in the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth century, and becoming much more widespread from about 1950, so concurrent with the increased consumption of carbohydrates from cereals in the Green Revolution. However, dietary components such as oligosaccharides from plants including cereals may improve health following fermentation to short-chain carboxylic acids in the intestine by bacteria which constitute of the microbiome. Such non-digestible and fermentable components of diet, called prebiotics, have been part of the human diet since at least Palaeolithic times, and include components of the cereals domesticated in the Neolithic Revolution. If consumption of these cereals has now increased, why is obesity increasing? One reason could be lowered prebiotic intake combined with increased intake of simple sugars, thus changing the bacteria in the microbiome. Processing of food has played an important role in this change of diet composition. Since obesity is a low-grade inflammation, changing the microbiome by increased consumption of simple carbohydrates and saturated fats may lead to obesity via increased systemic inflammation. Conversely, there is now reasonable evidence that increased dietary prebiotic intake decreases inflammation, improves glucose metabolism and decreases obesity. Would widespread increases in prebiotics in the modern diet, so mimicking Palaeolithic or Neolithic nutrition, decrease the incidence and morbidity of obesity in our communities?

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2014)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2014)
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2014 12:52
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2017 02:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: obesity; prebiotics; microbiota; inflammation; diet composition; cereals
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0605 Microbiology > 060501 Bacteriology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1111 Nutrition and Dietetics > 111103 Nutritional Physiology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1115 Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences > 111501 Basic Pharmacology
Fields of Research (2020): 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3107 Microbiology > 310701 Bacteriology
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3210 Nutrition and dietetics > 321004 Nutritional science
32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3214 Pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences > 321401 Basic pharmacology
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920411 Nutrition

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