Adapted from Independent Diabetes Trust Newsletter March 2023
The National Child Measurement Programme 16 March 2022
In the western world obesity rates continue to climb in children. In the UK when children start primary school at the age of 4-5 14.4% are obese and a further 13.3% are overweight. In Primary 6, at the age of 10-11 25.5% are obese and 15.4% are overweight.
My comment: from my own schooldays, there was only one overweight child in my primary class and she was on steroids and had a heart complaint that stopped her from participating in any exercise. In primary 7, there was one girl who was overweight and she had started puberty earlier than the rest of us.
In the USA in 2019 more than 30% of children were overweight or obese, similar to the UK figures. Physicians are reporting that since the Covid epidemic children are usually between 5 and 10 pounds heavier than they were at any given age, so these figures are likely to worsen even more.
Since 2006 Duke University has treated more than 15,000 children with a restricted carbohydrate diet which encourages the eating of vegetables, fatty fish, nuts and other features of the Mediterranean diet.
Meghan Pauley and colleagues from the Marshall University School of Medicine in Huntington West Virginia have cut the carbohydrate intake for children further to 30g or less a day and have been effective in short term weight loss in severely obese children and teenagers.
The ages of the subjects ranged from 5 years to 18 years. The study lasted 3-4 months. The children were otherwise told to eat as much fat and protein as desired with no limit on calories.
Two groups of analyses were done of different intakes into the programme in 2017 and 2018.
In Group A, 310 participants began the diet, 130 (42%) returned after 3-4 months. Group B had 14 enrollees who began the diet, and 8 followed up at 3-4 months (57%).
Girls compared with boys were more likely to complete the diet. Participants less than 12 years age were almost twice as likely to complete the diet compared with those 12-18 years, however, the older group subjects who completed the diet had the same percentage of weight loss compared with those under 12 years. Group A had reductions in weight of 5.1 kg , body mass index (BMI) 2.5 kg/m2 , and percentage weight loss 6.9% .
Group B had reductions in weight 9.6 kg , BMI 4 kg/m2 , and percentage weight loss 9% . In addition, participants had significant reductions of fasting serum insulin and triglycerides.
This study demonstrated that a carbohydrate-restricted diet, utilized short term, effectively reduced weight in a large percentage of severely obese youth, and can be replicated in a busy primary care office.