A low-glycemic index diet in the treatment of pediatric obesity

Leslie E. Spieth, Jennifer D. Harnish, Carine M. Lenders, Lauren B. Raezer, Mark A. Pereira, S. Jan Hangen, David S. Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

226 Scopus citations


Context: Conventional dietary approaches for the treatment of obesity have generally yielded disappointing results. Objective: To examine the effects of a low-glycemic index (GI) diet compared with a standard reduced-fat diet in the management of pediatric obesity. Design: Retrospective cohort study of children attending an outpatient pediatric obesity program from September 1997 to December 1998. Setting: Academic medical center. Participants: One hundred seven obese but otherwise healthy children. Main Outcome Measures: Changes in body mass index (BMI [calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters]) and body weight from first to last clinic visit. Results: A total of 64 patients received the low glycemic index diet and 43 received the reduced-fat diet for 4.3 vs 4.2 months' mean duration of follow-up, with 3.3 vs 3.3 mean number of visits, respectively. Body mass index (-1.53 kg/m2 [95% confidence interval, -1.94 to -1.12] vs -0.06 kg/m2 [-0.56 to +0.44], P<.001) and body weight (-2.03 kg [95% confidence interval -3.19 to -0.88] vs +1.31 kg [-0.11 to +2.72], P<.001) decreased more in the low-GI group compared with the reduced-fat group. In multivariate models, these differences remained significant (P<.01) after adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, BMI or baseline weight, participation in behavioral modification sessions, and treatment duration. Significantly more patients in the low-GI group experienced a decrease in BMI of at least 3 kg/m2 (11 kg/m2 [17.2%] vs 1 kg/m2 [2.3%], P=.03). Conclusions: A low-GI diet seems to be a promising alternative to standard dietary treatment for obesity in children. Long-term randomized controlled trials of a low-GI diet in the prevention and treatment of obesity are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-951
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000

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