Losing a moderate amount of weight can help obese teenagers improve their insulin sensitivity, potentially lowering their risk for diabetes, according to the results of a study published online on May 24, 2013, in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Researchers enrolled 113 obese adolescents aged 13 to 17 in a randomized, controlled behavioral weight loss trial program. The average baseline BMI for participants was 37.1, and they were all determined to be at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The adolescents and their parents were taught healthy eating habits and were encouraged to increase their levels of physical activity. Participants also attended weekly group counseling sessions.
Over the 4-month study period, the teenagers lowered their levels of fasting insulin, decreased their insulin resistance, and significantly improved their whole body insulin sensitivity index. The number of participants who met the criteria for metabolic syndrome also decreased due to weight loss. Based on their results, the researchers determined that the participants needed to reduce their BMI by just 8% in order to improve their insulin sensitivity.
The researchers suggest that weight loss programs designed for overweight and obese teenagers should focus on attainable weight loss goals that will lower their risks for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.