Objective: The present study evaluated weight loss and compliance outcomes for overweight adolescents assigned to one of two dietary interventions differing in the type of snacks allowed.
Methods: The study was a 12-week, controlled clinical trial, among otherwise healthy but overweight (body mass index >or=95th percentile) 11-year-old to 15-year-old girls who were randomly assigned to either a 1,500 kcal/day free-snack program or a 1,500 kcal/day restricted-snack program. All subjects were counseled to consume three servings of dairy products per day, and were provided with a 500 mg calcium supplement as well. Subjects in the free-snack group could choose any 150-calorie item as one of their two daily snacks, including regular soda if desired; however, subjects in the restricted-snack group were limited to diet soda.
Results: Thirty-two adolescent girls completed the 12-week intervention. Both diets were equally effective in achieving a modest amount of weight loss, and were equally acceptable to the subjects. Significant decreases in weight, body mass index, anthropometric measures, total cholesterol and triglycerides were observed.
Conclusions: A 1,500 kcal/day diet allowing for a free snack of 150 calories was equally as effective as a more restricted snack policy in achieving a modest amount of weight loss among overweight 11-year-old to 15-year-old girls. In addition, results suggest that some soda may be included in a teen weight control diet, as long as caloric intake is maintained at recommended levels, and care is taken to achieve adequate intake of essential nutrients. Calcium intake among subjects was low at baseline, and, although it increased during the study (due to supplementation), further efforts to increase consumption of naturally calcium-rich and calcium-fortified foods and beverages are needed.