Nothing in the human body acts within a vacuum. Seemingly everything interacts with everything else. This can make isolated experiments looking at single interventions difficult to extrapolate to overall health. Obesity is no different.
There has been growing research on the relationship between the bacteria in our gut and obesity. This may mean that heavy use of antibiotics, especially in our children, may be a strong contributor to the growing obesity epidemic.
But this article adds another piece to this puzzle. Soluble fiber cannot be digested by our gut, but it can be digested by the presence of healthy bacteria into short chain fatty acids. In this study, researchers looked at the effect of propionic acid (one of these short chain fatty acids) on inflammation within adipocytes (fat cells).
They found that adipocytes, when exposed to propionic acid, lowered the production of several pro-inflammatory molecules such as TNF-alpha. This is a very good thing, considering that the inflammation produced by adipose tissues in obese patients begins to wreak havoc on risk for diabetes, further obesity, cancer and osteoporosis.
The bottom line is that the use of probiotics in anyone (but especially our kids!) needs to be coupled with a diet high in soluble fiber.