Findings recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics have demonstrated that obese teenagers who were lowered their BMI (body mass index) by at least 8 percent observed improved insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity is a fundamental metabolic variable that relates to eventual development of type 2 diabetes.
The participating teens participated in a family inclusive, lifestyle-modification weight loss program, a program that shows potential to become a common practice.
"This threshold effect that occurs at 8 percent suggests that obese adolescents don't need to lose enormous amounts of weight to achieve improvements," commented The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia’s pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Lorraine Levitt Katz. "The improvements in insulin sensitivity occurred after four months of participating in a lifestyle-modification program."
The primary authors, Dr. Pamela Abrams, of St. Luke’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology and psychiatrist Dr. Robert I. Berkowitz, the investigator of a federally sponsored weight loss clinical trial, which provided data for the current study.
The research team studied the results of 113 urban teens ranging from 13-17 years old. Of these teens, 81% were female and 62 percent were African American. When the study began, the group mean BMI was 37.1, ranking them as severely obese. While none were diabetic, their obesity does place them at a significantly higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
Motivation for the study stems from a desire to determine a reliable threshold of weight loss that actually impacts gluten tolerance, metabolic syndrome (MS), and insulin sensitivity, all of which are greatly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.
The program that the studied teens followed relied on full-scale family-based lifestyle modification. The program began with simply teaching the teens and their parents about healthy eating habits and encouraging regular exercise programs. Many teens relied on prepackaged and portion controlled foods and others followed their regular diet but began counting and restricting their calorie count.
Both he teens and their parents met for specialized (and separate) obesity and diabetes support groups weekly. “This study reinforces the importance of behavior change - adopting healthy eating habits and getting more physical activity - in achieving weight loss in adolescents," commented Berkowitz.