BGlucans and weight control

P-Glucans could play a role in body weight regulation through different mechanisms: it increases satiation, decreases the absorption efficiency of the small intestine, regulates glucose and insulin responses, and has beneficial effects on lipid metabolism.

Various epidemiological studies have shown an inverse correlation between fibre intake and body weight, BMI and body fat.75 In the CARDIA study, a population-based cohort study of the change in cardiovascular risk factors over 10 years, it was shown that dietary fibre was inversely associated with fasting insulin levels (mean difference across quintiles: -5.6 pmol/ l, p = 0.007 in whites; -9.7 pmol/l in blacks, p = 0.01), weight gain (mean difference across quintiles in both populations: -3.65 kg, p > 0.001) and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in young adults.76 White men and women consuming diets supposed to be the lowest in GI (high fibre, high fat) had the least weight gain over 10 years compared with those consuming supposedly high-GI diets (low fibre, low fat).

Another epidemiological study carried out on a cohort of 27 802 men demonstrated a reduced risk of weight gain (8 years of observation) associated with increased whole-grain or bran intake.77 Dietary fibre was inversely related to weight gain independent of whole-grains (p for trend <0.0001). They found that for every 20 g/day increase in dietary fibre, weight gain was reduced by 1.18 kg.

Few intervention studies had been done until 2000 on the effects of fibre on body weight. In fact, the focus was on the use of fibre in enhancing compliance with low-caloric diets designed for weight loss by reducing hunger.78 Intervention studies performed in healthy, overweight or obese humans led to conflicting results. Some reported no effect on body weight.66'79 In the study of Nicolosi et al.,19 the subjects had consumed enough energy to maintain their body weight. Some other studies did report an effect of fibre on body weight loss.8081 In these last two studies (with demonstrated effects of fibre on body weight loss), fibre supplementation was associated with reduced energy intake and it was not possible to relate the weight loss solely to fibre intake. In addition, no evidence has been shown of an enhanced effect of fibre supplementation compared with caloric restriction alone. It is also interesting to record that a greater suppression of energy intake and a greater weight loss was observed in overweight or obese subjects versus normal-weight subjects: mean energy intake in all studies was reduced to 82% by higher fibre intake in overweight/obese people versus 94% in lean people and body weight loss was 2.4 kg versus 0.8 kg, respec-tively.78,82 Fibre supplementation could be considered at the least as a good support for weight loss diets by enhancing satiety. However, more clinical studies are required to determine which kind of fibre and what quantities are suitable for the prevention of weight gain and obesity in different populations.

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