Is high-intensity interval training more effective on improving cardiometabolic risk and aerobic capacity than other forms of exercise in overweight and obese youth? A meta-analysis

Obes Rev. 2016 Jun;17(6):531-40. doi: 10.1111/obr.12395. Epub 2016 Mar 7.


Background: The scientific interest in high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has greatly increased during recent years.

Objective: The objective of this meta-analysis was to determine the effectiveness of HIIT interventions on cardio-metabolic risk factors and aerobic capacity in overweight and obese youth, in comparison with other forms of exercise.

Data sources: A computerized search was made using seven databases.

Study eligibility criteria: The analysis was restricted to studies that examined the effect of HIIT interventions on cardio-metabolic and/or aerobic capacity in pediatric obesity (6-17 years old).

Participants and interventions: Nine studies using HIIT interventions were selected (n = 274).

Study appraisal and synthesis methods: Standarized mean difference (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. The DerSimonian-Laird approach was used.

Results: HIIT interventions (4-12 week duration) produced larger decreases in systolic blood pressure (SMD = 0.39; -3.63 mmHg) and greater increases in maximum oxygen uptake (SMD = 0.59; 1.92 ml/kg/min) than other forms of exercise. Also, type of comparison exercise group and duration of study were moderators.

Conclusions: HIIT could be considered a more effective and time-efficient intervention for improving blood pressure and aerobic capacity levels in obese youth in comparison to other types of exercise. © 2016 World Obesity.

Keywords: Cardiorespiratory fitness; childhood obesity; intensity training; intermittent training.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Child
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • High-Intensity Interval Training*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Pediatric Obesity / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic