|Title||Abdominal fat reduction in obese adolescents: the effects of exercise training|
|Authors||Alberga AS. et al|
|Journal||International Journal of Obesity|
|Web Link||Click here|
Why they did it?
A recent U.S-based study showed that just under 20% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 18 years were classified as obese (1). That same study showed that between 2001-10 childhood obesity levels have been steadily increasing. This is a great public health concern for two reasons. First, overweight children find it difficult to lose and sustain weight loss, and often remain obese throughout their adult lives; and second, obesity increases the risk of chronic diseases, such as poor cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal health. Research has consistently shown that sustained exercise is effective in reducing body fat levels. However, much of the current research has been conducted with obese middle-aged adults (35-60 years). The aim of this exercise intervention was to examine the effects of aerobic, resistance and concurrent training and their contribution to abdominal fat among obese adolescents.
How they did it?
In this randomized controlled trail, a total of 304 inactive post-pubertal obese (BMI >30.0) adolescents aged 14-18 years were recruited to undergo a 22-week exercise intervention. Participants were randomized into 4 groups: (1) Aerobic training (n=75), (2) Resistance training (n=78), (3) combined aerobic and resistance training (n=75) and (4) control (n=76). Details of the intervention can be found in the paper. In brief, all groups except the control underwent three supervised exercise sessions a week for 22 weeks. Importantly, the sessions were designed to be matched in terms of the energy expenditure across each group. The main outcome of the study was the objective assessment of the changes in the levels of fat around the abdominal region (assessed using a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan). Bloods samples were taken to examine change in biomarkers associated with obesity.
What they found?
After the 22-week intervention, when compared to the control group, the levels of fat around the abdominal region significantly decreased in all groups: with aerobic, resistance and combined groups losing -16.2, -22.7 & 18.7 cm2 abdominal fat, respectively. Interestingly, the resistance training group had the greatest reduction in abdominal fat. The data also suggested that when compared to the aerobic and resistance groups, the combined group had the most favourable changes in biomarker profiles.
Ok, what does this mean to me?
This is an important study because it is the first to establish that sustained aerobic, resistance and combined training were effective in promoting reduction in abdominal fat among a large sample of obese adolescents. Fitness professionals should promote exercise training among young overweight and obese adolescents and should also be aware of industry standards and guidelines for this population group.