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The study compared a traditional low-fat weight loss diet to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet in severely obese adolescents. Forty-six teens who weighed almost twice their ideal body weight enrolled in the study and started on a 13-week diet: those assigned to the high-protein diet were aiming for daily intakes of 2 to 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight and no more than 20 grams of carbohydrate; those assigned to the low-fat diet were instructed in calorie restriction and ways of getting no more than 30% of daily calories from fat.
Key findings were as follows:
BMI (body mass index) scores (statistical calculations based on BMI percentiles for age and gender) improved in both groups during the diet period and were still improved at follow-ups. This means that some of the weight the children gained back was due to normal growth, rather than to a worsening of obesity. The improvement was greater in the high-protein group.
The results from this study should begin to relieve concerns that this type of diet may be an unhealthy approach for teens. “There have been fears that the diet could adversely impact growth and could increase cholesterol levels because it is a high-fat diet,” said lead study author Dr. Nancy F. Krebs at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. Based on their findings, Dr. Krebs and her colleagues concluded that “a high protein, carbohydrate restricted diet should be considered a safe and effective option for medically-supervised treatment of severe obesity in adolescents.”
(J Pediatr 2010; electronic publication)
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