Efficacy of increasing physical activity to reduce children's visceral fat: A pilot randomized controlled trial


Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute, 1100 Olive Way, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98101, USA. Fax: 1 206 884 7801. Email: brian.saelens@seattlechildrens.org


Objective. To examine whether differentially targeting physical activity within the context of pilot family-based pediatric weight control treatment results in differential change in abdominal fat, particularly visceral fat. Method. Twenty-nine overweight children (>85th body mass index [BMI] percentile) and at least one participating parent were randomly assigned to one of two family-based behavioral weight management conditions that either targeted 1) primarily dietary change (STANDARD; n =15) or 2) dietary plus physical activity change (ADDED; n =14). Differences at post-treatment in overall child weight status (e.g., BMI), whole-body composition (measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry), and abdominal fat (measured by waist circumference and magnetic resonance imaging) were assessed using intent-to-treat analyses, as were post-treatment parent BMI and waist circumference. Child and parent physical activity and dietary behavior changes were also evaluated. Results. At post-treatment, overall child weight status, whole-body composition, and child dietary measures did not differ by condition. Children in the ADDED condition tended to have higher physical activity and lower visceral abdominal fat at post-treatment relative to children in the STANDARD condition. Conclusions. Increasing physical activity may be important to optimize reductions in abdominal fat, especially visceral fat, among overweight children provided with family-based behavioral weight management treatment.

Clinical trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00359957