British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

The effect of a fibre supplement compared to a healthy diet on body composition, lipids, glucose, insulin and other metabolic syndrome risk factors in overweight and obese individuals

Sebely Pala1 c1, Alireza Khossousia1, Colin Binnsa1, Satvinder Dhaliwala1 and Vanessa Ellisa1

a1 School of Public Health, Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, ATN Centre for Metabolic Fitness, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA, Australia 6485


Optimum levels and types of dietary fibre that provide the greatest beneficial effects on metabolic syndrome risk factors in overweight and obese individuals have yet to be determined in clinical trials. The present parallel design study compared the effects of fibre intake from a healthy diet v. a fibre supplement (psyllium) or a healthy diet plus fibre supplement on fasting lipids, glucose, insulin and body composition. Overweight/obese adults were randomised to either control (with placebo), fibre supplement (FIB), healthy eating plus placebo (HLT) or healthy eating plus fibre supplement (HLT–FIB). There was a significant increase in fibre intake in HLT–FIB, HLT and FIB groups up to 59, 31 and 55 g, respectively, at 12 weeks when compared to control (20 g). Weight, BMI and % total body fat were significantly reduced in FIB and HLT–FIB groups, with weight and BMI significantly reduced in the HLT group compared with control at 12 weeks. HLT–FIB and HLT groups had significant reductions in TAG and insulin compared with control at 6 and 12 weeks, and in insulin compared with the FIB group at 12 weeks. The HLT–FIB, HLT and FIB groups all had significant reductions in total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol compared with control after 6 and 12 weeks. The present study demonstrated that simply adding psyllium fibre supplementation to a normal diet was sufficient to obtain beneficial effects in risk factors. However, a high-fibre diet consisting of a psyllium supplement plus fibre from a healthy diet provided the greatest improvements in metabolic syndrome risk factors.

(Received February 03 2010)

(Revised May 20 2010)

(Accepted July 05 2010)

(Online publication August 23 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Associate Professor S. Pal, fax +61 8 9266 2258, email


Abbreviations: FIB, the supplement group who consumed a fibre supplement with their usual diet; HDL-C, HDL-cholesterol; HLT, a healthy eating group who consumed the placebo with a healthy eating regimen.; HLT–FIB, healthy eating plus fibre supplement group.; LDL-C, LDL-cholesterol; TC, total cholesterol