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Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits

Overview of attention for article published in British Journal of Nutrition, August 2010
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (91st percentile)

Mentioned by

3 news outlets
5 blogs
16 tweeters
2 patents
7 Facebook pages
1 Wikipedia page
2 Google+ users
1 video uploader


1110 Dimensions

Readers on

1216 Mendeley
3 CiteULike
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Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits
Published in
British Journal of Nutrition, August 2010
DOI 10.1017/s0007114510003363
Pubmed ID

Marcel Roberfroid, Glenn R. Gibson, Lesley Hoyles, Anne L. McCartney, Robert Rastall, Ian Rowland, Danielle Wolvers, Bernhard Watzl, Hania Szajewska, Bernd Stahl, Francisco Guarner, Frederique Respondek, Kevin Whelan, Veronique Coxam, Marie-Jeanne Davicco, Laurent Léotoing, Yohann Wittrant, Nathalie M. Delzenne, Patrice D. Cani, Audrey M. Neyrinck, Agnes Meheust


The different compartments of the gastrointestinal tract are inhabited by populations of micro-organisms. By far the most important predominant populations are in the colon where a true symbiosis with the host exists that is a key for well-being and health. For such a microbiota, 'normobiosis' characterises a composition of the gut 'ecosystem' in which micro-organisms with potential health benefits predominate in number over potentially harmful ones, in contrast to 'dysbiosis', in which one or a few potentially harmful micro-organisms are dominant, thus creating a disease-prone situation. The present document has been written by a group of both academic and industry experts (in the ILSI Europe Prebiotic Expert Group and Prebiotic Task Force, respectively). It does not aim to propose a new definition of a prebiotic nor to identify which food products are classified as prebiotic but rather to validate and expand the original idea of the prebiotic concept (that can be translated in 'prebiotic effects'), defined as: 'The selective stimulation of growth and/or activity(ies) of one or a limited number of microbial genus(era)/species in the gut microbiota that confer(s) health benefits to the host.' Thanks to the methodological and fundamental research of microbiologists, immense progress has very recently been made in our understanding of the gut microbiota. A large number of human intervention studies have been performed that have demonstrated that dietary consumption of certain food products can result in statistically significant changes in the composition of the gut microbiota in line with the prebiotic concept. Thus the prebiotic effect is now a well-established scientific fact. The more data are accumulating, the more it will be recognised that such changes in the microbiota's composition, especially increase in bifidobacteria, can be regarded as a marker of intestinal health. The review is divided in chapters that cover the major areas of nutrition research where a prebiotic effect has tentatively been investigated for potential health benefits. The prebiotic effect has been shown to associate with modulation of biomarkers and activity(ies) of the immune system. Confirming the studies in adults, it has been demonstrated that, in infant nutrition, the prebiotic effect includes a significant change of gut microbiota composition, especially an increase of faecal concentrations of bifidobacteria. This concomitantly improves stool quality (pH, SCFA, frequency and consistency), reduces the risk of gastroenteritis and infections, improves general well-being and reduces the incidence of allergic symptoms such as atopic eczema. Changes in the gut microbiota composition are classically considered as one of the many factors involved in the pathogenesis of either inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome. The use of particular food products with a prebiotic effect has thus been tested in clinical trials with the objective to improve the clinical activity and well-being of patients with such disorders. Promising beneficial effects have been demonstrated in some preliminary studies, including changes in gut microbiota composition (especially increase in bifidobacteria concentration). Often associated with toxic load and/or miscellaneous risk factors, colon cancer is another pathology for which a possible role of gut microbiota composition has been hypothesised. Numerous experimental studies have reported reduction in incidence of tumours and cancers after feeding specific food products with a prebiotic effect. Some of these studies (including one human trial) have also reported that, in such conditions, gut microbiota composition was modified (especially due to increased concentration of bifidobacteria). Dietary intake of particular food products with a prebiotic effect has been shown, especially in adolescents, but also tentatively in postmenopausal women, to increase Ca absorption as well as bone Ca accretion and bone mineral density. Recent data, both from experimental models and from human studies, support the beneficial effects of particular food products with prebiotic properties on energy homaeostasis, satiety regulation and body weight gain. Together, with data in obese animals and patients, these studies support the hypothesis that gut microbiota composition (especially the number of bifidobacteria) may contribute to modulate metabolic processes associated with syndrome X, especially obesity and diabetes type 2. It is plausible, even though not exclusive, that these effects are linked to the microbiota-induced changes and it is feasible to conclude that their mechanisms fit into the prebiotic effect. However, the role of such changes in these health benefits remains to be definitively proven. As a result of the research activity that followed the publication of the prebiotic concept 15 years ago, it has become clear that products that cause a selective modification in the gut microbiota's composition and/or activity(ies) and thus strengthens normobiosis could either induce beneficial physiological effects in the colon and also in extra-intestinal compartments or contribute towards reducing the risk of dysbiosis and associated intestinal and systemic pathologies.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 1,216 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 9 <1%
United Kingdom 8 <1%
Spain 4 <1%
Brazil 3 <1%
Netherlands 3 <1%
Switzerland 2 <1%
Canada 2 <1%
Denmark 2 <1%
India 2 <1%
Other 13 1%
Unknown 1168 96%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 246 20%
Student > Bachelor 194 16%
Researcher 174 14%
Student > Ph. D. Student 172 14%
Student > Doctoral Student 74 6%
Other 221 18%
Unknown 135 11%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 336 28%
Medicine and Dentistry 230 19%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 130 11%
Nursing and Health Professions 78 6%
Chemistry 52 4%
Other 190 16%
Unknown 200 16%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 83. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 19 February 2020.
All research outputs
of 15,670,680 outputs
Outputs from British Journal of Nutrition
of 5,075 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 216,401 outputs
Outputs of similar age from British Journal of Nutrition
of 60 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,670,680 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 5,075 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 14.1. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 216,401 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 60 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 91% of its contemporaries.