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Keywords:

  • diet;
  • Prader-Willi syndrome;
  • weight control

How to cite this article Miller J.L., Lynn C.H., Shuster J. & Driscoll D.J. (2012) A reduced-energy intake, well-balanced diet improves weight control in children with Prader-Willi syndrome. J Hum Nutr Diet. 26, 2–9

Background:  Children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have a predictable pattern of weight gain, with obesity beginning in early childhood and worsening as they get older and hyperphagia increases. Data on the most effective dietary modifications are scant and primarily anecdotal. As part of a longitudinal study investigating the natural history of PWS, we evaluated the effect of a well-balanced, energy-restricted diet on body composition and weight in young children with PWS.

Methods:  Sixty-three children, aged 2–10 years, with genetically proven PWS participated in the present study. These children had measurements of body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and resting energy expenditure (REE), as well as a 3-day diet history analysis both before and after intervention. Energy calculations were based on the individual’s REE, with the recommendation that the macronutrients of the diet consist of 30% fat, 45% carbohydrates and 25% protein, with at least 20 g of fibre per day.

Results:  Thirty-three families adhered to our dietary recommendations for both energy intake and macronutrient distribution. Those 33 children had lower body fat (19.8% versus 41.9%; P < 0.001) and weight management (body mass index SD score 0.3 versus 2.23; P < 0.001) than those whose parents followed the energy intake recommendations but did not alter the macronutrient composition of the diet. Those who followed our recommendations also had a lower respiratory quotient (0.84 versus 0.95; P = 0.002).

Conclusions:  Our recommendation for an energy-restricted diet with a well-balanced macronutrient composition and fibre intake improves both weight and body composition in children with PWS compared to a simple energy-restricted diet.