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Low-Carb Diet Effective for Teens Trying to Lose Weight


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CINCINNATI -- What's an effective diet for a teen trying to lose weight? A new Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center study shows that a low carbohydrate diet appears to be effective for obese teens when run by pediatricians in the office setting.

The study, to be presented Sunday, May 6 at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Toronto, shows that 84 percent of the teens who completed the six-month study lost weight, according to Robert Siegel, MD, the study's main author and medical director of the Cincinnati Pediatric Research Group (CPRG), a network of practice-based pediatricians in the Cincinnati area. The CPRG is affiliated with and supported by the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's.

"More than 20 percent of American children are classified as overweight or obese," says Dr. Siegel. "Most obese children go on to become obese adults and will face related morbidity and mortality risks. Pediatricians are often frustrated in finding an intervention that is feasible and successful in the office setting. A low-carb diet may be one answer."

The study was conducted in 25 pediatric offices composed of 47 practitioners in the Cincinnati area. Participants included children between 12 and 18 with a body mass index greater than the 95th percentile for their age. Sixty-three teens were put on a diet of less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Their pediatrician and a dietician saw them at regular intervals over a six-month period. Thirty-eight of the teens, approximately 60 percent, finished the study.

Mean weight fell from 206 pounds to 195 pounds. Weight change ranged from a gain of about 12 pounds to a loss of about 53 pounds. There was also a significant decrease in body mass index and an improvement in self-esteem, based on a commonly used measurement scale.

Participants reported a significant decrease in average daily calorie intake, from 2,401 to 1,153. While the percent of calories from fat increased, the absolute intake of fat was unchanged.

Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, one of the leading pediatric research institutions in the nation, is dedicated to changing the outcome for children throughout the world. Cincinnati Children's ranks second among all pediatric institutions in the United States in grants from the National Institutes of Health. It has an established tradition of research excellence, with discoveries including the Sabin oral polio vaccine, the surfactant preparation that saves the lives of thousands of premature infants each year, and a rotavirus vaccine that saves the lives of hundreds of thousands of infants around the world each year. Current strategic directions include the translation of basic laboratory research into the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of disease, and furthering the development of personalized and predictive medicine.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656, jim.feuer@cchmc.org