Background: Safe and effective exercise programs are needed to prevent and treat chronic diseases in childhood. In particular, preadolescent obese children should participate in activities that are specific to their special needs. Resistance or strength training has been prescribed for adult obese persons. Research is limited concerning the use of resistance training in programs that treat obese preadolescents.
Methods: Nineteen treatment subjects (7-12 years of age) were enrolled in a 10-week weight management program which included diet, behavior modification, and aerobic and flexibility exercises. Forty-eight control subjects (7-12 years of age) participated in the diet, behavior modification program, and a thrice-a-week walking program. The efficacy of the overall weight management program was examined by anthropometry at 10 weeks and 1 year.
Results: Fifteen treatment subjects completed the 10-week program (retention rate, 78.9%). Thereafter compliance decreased by approximately 33% for the long-term study. Seventeen control subjects completed the program (retention rate, 35%). Weight, percent of ideal body weight, and body mass index were reduced significantly at 10 weeks (P<0.0001) and did not increase significantly at 1-year follow-up in both treatment and control groups. Height increased significantly at 1 year in both treatment and control subjects. In the treatment subjects, percent fat decreased significantly (P<0.001), whereas fat-free mass did not change significantly (P>0.05).
Conclusions: A resistance-training program may be included safely in a multidisciplinary weight management program for obese preadolescent male and female children. The addition of specific exercise regimes such as resistance training may improve program retention especially in severely obese youth.