Objective: Obesity prevalence among African American (AA) girls is higher than that in other groups. Because typical energy-restriction obesity treatment strategies have had limited success, alterations in macronutrient composition may effectively improve metabolic outcomes in this population and affect future body composition trajectories. The objective was to evaluate the efficacy of a moderately restricted carbohydrate (CHO) versus a standard CHO diet on weight/fat loss and metabolic parameters in overweight/obese AA girls ages 9 to 14 years.
Methods: A total of 26 AA girls (ranging from 92nd body mass index percentile and above) were assigned to either a reduced- (SPEC: 42% energy from CHO, n = 12) or a standard- (STAN: 55% of energy from CHO, n = 14) CHO diet (protein held constant) for 16 weeks. All of the meals were provided and clinically tailored to meet the estimated energy requirements (resting energy expenditure × 1.2 in eucaloric phase and resting energy expenditure × 1.2 − 1000 kcal in energy deficit phase). The first 5 weeks encompassed a eucaloric phase evaluating metabolic changes in the absence of weight change. The subsequent 11 weeks were hypocaloric (1000 kcal/day deficit) to promote weight/fat loss. Meal tests were performed during the eucaloric phase for metabolic analyses. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry was used to evaluate body composition.
Results: Both groups experienced reductions in weight/adiposity, but the difference did not reach significance. The solid meal test indicated improved glucose/insulin homeostasis on the SPEC diet up to 3 hours postingestion. In addition, significantly lower triglycerides (P < 0.001) were observed on the SPEC diet.
Conclusions: Dietary CHO reduction favorably influences metabolic parameters but did not result in greater weight/fat loss relative to a standard diet in obese AA girls. Future research is needed to determine long-term effectiveness of a reduced CHO diet on glucose and insulin homeostasis and how it may apply to weight maintenance/fat loss during development alone and/or in combination with additional weight loss/metabolic improvement strategies.