In recent years, attention has been given to the role potentially played by gut microbiota in the development of obesity. Several studies have shown that in individuals with obesity, the gut microbiota composition can be significantly different from that of lean individuals, that faecal bacteria can exert a fundamental role in modulating energy metabolism, and that modifications of gut microbiota composition can be associated with increases or reductions of body weight and body mass index. Based on this evidence, manipulation of the gut microbiota with probiotics has been considered a possible method to prevent and treat obesity. However, despite a great amount of data, the use of probiotics to prevent and treat obesity and related problems remains debated. Studies have found that the probiotic effect on body weight and metabolism is strain specific and that only some of the species included in the Lactobacillus
genera are effective, whereas the use of other strains can be deleterious. However, the dosage, duration of administration, and long-term effects of probiotics administration to prevent overweight and obesity are not known. Further studies are needed before probiotics can be rationally prescribed for the prevention or treatment of obesity. Control of the diet and environmental and life-style factors that favour obesity development remain the best solution to problems related to weight gain.
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