Diet, exercise or diet with exercise: comparing the effectiveness of treatment options for weight-loss and changes in fitness for adults (18-65 years old) who are overfat, or obese; systematic review and meta-analysis

J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2015 Apr 17;14:31. doi: 10.1186/s40200-015-0154-1. eCollection 2015.


There are number of means of methods to alter body composition, and metabolic issues, available for the adult who is overfat. The following is a systematic review and meta-analysis focused on comparing changes from treatment program for adults who are overfat based on analysis of aggregated effect size (ES) of inducing changes. So as to determine the relative effectiveness of such protocols and intervention plans of choice. This tiered meta-analysis of 66-population based studies, and 162-studywise groups, a clear pattern of ES being established across and within treatments. First, hypocaloric balance is necessary for changing body composition, but the effectiveness for establishing imbalance does not equate with the effectiveness for body compositional changes, or any biomarkers associated with metabolic issues. With analysis showing that there is a necessity to include exercise in combination with diet effectively elicit changes in body composition and biomarkers of metabolic issues. More importantly, the combination, resistance training (RT) was more effective than endurance training (ET) or combination of RT and ET, particularly when progressive training volume of 2-to-3 sets for 6-to-10 reps at an intensity of ≥75% 1RM, utilizing whole body and free-weight exercises, at altering body compositional measures (ES of 0.47, 0.30, and 0.40 for loss of BM, FM, and retention of FFM respectively) and reducing total cholesterol (ES = 0.85), triglycerides (ES = 0.86) and low-density lipoproteins (ES = 0.60). Additionally RT was more effective at reducing fasting insulin levels (ES = 3.5) than ET or ET and RT. Even though generally lower ES than RT, the inclusion of ET was more effective when performed at high intensity (e.g. ≥70% VO2max or HRmax for 30-minutes 3-4x's/wk), or in an interval training style than when utilizing the relatively common prescribed method of low-to-moderate (e.g., 50-70% VO2max or HRmax for at least equal time) steady state method, ES of 0.35, 0.39, and 0.13 for BM, FM, and FFM respectively. Thus indicating that focus of treatment should be on producing a large metabolic stress (as induced by RT or high levels of ET) rather than an energetic imbalance for adults who are overfat.

Keywords: Comparison; Exercise; Obesity; Weight loss.