Researchers found that obese teens who reduced their body-mass index (BMI) by 8 percent or more had improvements in insulin sensitivity, a measure of how well the body processes insulin and an important risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. BMI is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight.
“This threshold effect that occurs at 8 percent suggests that obese adolescents don’t need to lose enormous amounts of weight to achieve improvements,” study co-author Dr. Lorraine Levitt Katz, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Diabetes Center for Children at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said in a hospital news release.
“The improvements in insulin sensitivity occurred after four months of participating in a lifestyle-modification program,” Katz said.
The study included 113 teens, aged 13 to 17, whose average BMI at the start of the study was 37.1. People with a BMI of 35 to 40 are classified as severely obese. None of the teens had type 2 diabetes at the start of the study, but their obesity placed them at high risk to develop the disease in the future.