Low-carb diet boosts metabolic health in black girls

May 3, 2012

A reduced-carbohydrate diet led to favorable changes in metabolic parameters in peripubertal black girls who were obese, but did it have any effect on weight loss?

Black girls have a disproportionately high prevalence of obesity. They also tend to be insulin resistant and thus are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of high carbohydrate intake on insulin homeostasis and fat deposition, especially in times of growth and development such as puberty.

To determine whether a moderately reduced carbohydrate diet would improve body composition outcomes through attenuation of the insulin response, researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham randomized 26 black girls aged 9 to 14 years to either a reduced carbohydrate diet (42% of energy from carbohydrate) or a standard carbohydrate diet (55% of energy from carbohydrate).

At baseline, the girls were overweight or obese (body mass index, 92nd percentile or above). For the first 5 weeks, they received a eucaloric diet to evaluate metabolic changes in the absence of weight loss; for the next 11 weeks, the diet was hypocaloric to promote weight and fat loss.

Both groups showed reductions in weight and adiposity at the end of the study, but the differences between the groups were not significant. Response to a test meal indicated improved glucose and insulin homeostasis in girls on the reduced carbohydrate diet. This group also had significantly lower triglyceride levels.

Since both diet groups had significant reductions in weight and fat, the researchers suggest that caloric intake independent of macronutrient consumption may be beneficial for controlling weight and fat accumulation in a population at risk for adverse health consequences.

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