-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obese teens don't need to
lose large amounts of weight to lower their risk of developing
diabetes, according to a new study.
Researchers found that obese teens who reduced their body-mass
index (BMI) by 8 percent or more had improvements in insulin
sensitivity, a measure of how well the body processes insulin and
an important risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. BMI is a
measurement of body fat based on height and weight.
"This threshold effect that occurs at 8 percent suggests that obese adolescents don't need to lose enormous amounts of weight to achieve improvements," study co-author Dr. Lorraine Levitt Katz, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Diabetes Center for Children at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a hospital news release.
"The improvements in insulin sensitivity occurred after four months of participating in a lifestyle-modification program," Katz said.
The study included 113 teens, aged 13 to 17, whose average BMI
at the start of the study was 37.1. People with a BMI of 35 to 40
are classified as severely obese. None of the teens had type 2
diabetes at the start of the study, but their obesity placed them
at high risk to develop the disease in the future.
The teens were put on a weight-loss program that used
family-based lifestyle changes. They and their parents were taught
about healthy eating habits and encouraged to increase their levels
of physical activity. The teens and their parents attended weekly
group counseling sessions and the parents were encouraged to
support their children's lifestyle changes and to be
healthy-lifestyle role models.
The study, published online May 24 in the
Journal of Pediatrics, reinforces the importance of
lifestyle changes in helping teens lose weight, the researchers
They also noted that the 8 percent reduction in BMI needed to
improve insulin sensitivity is "achievable" and easy for doctors to
The Nemours Foundation outlines how
obesity and overweight affect teens' health.
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