Aim: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a 6-week diet and exercise program, with emphasis on strength training, on the physical self-concept, body composition, and physical fitness of young overweight and obese children.
Methods: Eighty-two overweight and obese children aged 8-11 years were randomized into a diet-only or a diet-and-strength training group. Self-concept, body composition and physical fitness were measured before and after the 6-week study period using the Physical Self Description Questionnaires (PSDQ), dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and standard fitness tests. Dietary intake was assessed with a food frequency questionnaire. Total daily energy intake was significantly reduced in both groups with a trend of more reduction in the diet-only group.
Results: Both groups developed greater confidence in strength. Those in the diet-and-strength training group also improved their endurance self-concept. Body Mass Index (BMI) decreased significantly in both groups. Lean mass increased significantly in both groups but significantly more in the diet-and-strength training group (+0.8 kg vs +0.3 kg, P<0.05). Handgrip, shuttle run, sit-up, and push-up were significantly improved in both groups, to a significantly greater extent in the diet-and-strength training group.
Conclusion: These findings confirm the 6-week program of either diet-only or diet-and-strength training improved overweight/obese children's self-perception of muscular strength and body composition. With the diet-and-strength training program, self-concept in endurance also improved and the gain in lean body mass was more than double that of the diet only group.