A low-glycemic index diet in the treatment of pediatric obesity

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Sep;154(9):947-51. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.154.9.947.


Context: Conventional dietary approaches for the treatment of obesity have generally yielded disappointing results.

Objective: To examine the effects of a low-glycemic index (GI) diet compared with a standard reduced-fat diet in the management of pediatric obesity.

Design: Retrospective cohort study of children attending an outpatient pediatric obesity program from September 1997 to December 1998.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Participants: One hundred seven obese but otherwise healthy children.

Main outcome measures: Changes in body mass index (BMI [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters]) and body weight from first to last clinic visit.

Results: A total of 64 patients received the low glycemic index diet and 43 received the reduced-fat diet for 4.3 vs 4.2 months' mean duration of follow-up, with 3.3 vs 3.3 mean number of visits, respectively. Body mass index (-1.53 kg/m(2) [95% confidence interval, -1.94 to -1.12] vs -0.06 kg/m(2) [-0.56 to + 0. 44], P<.001) and body weight (-2.03 kg [95% confidence interval -3. 19 to -0.88] vs +1.31 kg [ -0.11 to + 2.72], P<.001) decreased more in the low-GI group compared with the reduced-fat group. In multivariate models, these differences remained significant (P<.01) after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, BMI or baseline weight, participation in behavioral modification sessions, and treatment duration. Significantly more patients in the low-GI group experienced a decrease in BMI of at least 3 kg/m(2) (11 kg/m(2) [17. 2%] vs. 1 kg/m(2) [2.3%], P =.03).

Conclusions: A low-GI diet seems to be a promising alternative to standard dietary treatment for obesity in children. Long-term randomized controlled trials of a low-GI diet in the prevention and treatment of obesity are needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted / methods*
  • Diet, Reducing / methods*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Insulin