The Eat Smart Study: a randomised controlled trial of a reduced carbohydrate versus a low fat diet for weight loss in obese adolescents

BMC Public Health. 2010 Aug 9;10:464. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-464.

Abstract

Background: Despite the recognition of obesity in young people as a key health issue, there is limited evidence to inform health professionals regarding the most appropriate treatment options. The Eat Smart study aims to contribute to the knowledge base of effective dietary strategies for the clinical management of the obese adolescent and examine the cardiometablic effects of a reduced carbohydrate diet versus a low fat diet.

Methods and design: Eat Smart is a randomised controlled trial and aims to recruit 100 adolescents over a 2 1/2 year period. Families will be invited to participate following referral by their health professional who has recommended weight management. Participants will be overweight as defined by a body mass index (BMI) greater than the 90th percentile, using CDC 2000 growth charts. An accredited 6-week psychological life skills program 'FRIENDS for Life', which is designed to provide behaviour change and coping skills will be undertaken prior to volunteers being randomised to group. The intervention arms include a structured reduced carbohydrate or a structured low fat dietary program based on an individualised energy prescription. The intervention will involve a series of dietetic appointments over 24 weeks. The control group will commence the dietary program of their choice after a 12 week period. Outcome measures will be assessed at baseline, week 12 and week 24. The primary outcome measure will be change in BMI z-score. A range of secondary outcome measures including body composition, lipid fractions, inflammatory markers, social and psychological measures will be measured.

Discussion: The chronic and difficult nature of treating the obese adolescent is increasingly recognised by clinicians and has highlighted the need for research aimed at providing effective intervention strategies, particularly for use in the tertiary setting. A structured reduced carbohydrate approach may provide a dietary pattern that some families will find more sustainable and effective than the conventional low fat dietary approach currently advocated. This study aims to investigate the acceptability and effectiveness of a structured reduced dietary carbohydrate intervention and will compare the outcomes of this approach with a structured low fat eating plan.

Trial registration: The protocol for this study is registered with the International Clinical Trials Registry (ISRCTN49438757).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Weight Loss*

Substances

  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN49438757