Dietary carbohydrates may help prepubescent girls beat obesity risk, suggests study.
According to research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a reduction in dietary carbohydrates improved various metabolic indicators in overweight African-American girls even in the absence of weight-loss.
The research team placed 26 obese African-American girls ages 9-14 on one of two diets.
One diet drew 43 percent of its calories from carbohydrates, and the other drew 57 percent of calories from carbohydrates.
After five weeks, the lower-carb group showed a reduction in lipids, such as triglycerides and cholesterol, along with better glucose control and insulin response and an improvement in reproductive hormones.
"Our goal was to understand better the effects of a low- or high-carbohydrate diet on girls before puberty, an important time in a young girl's physical development," said Krista Casazza, Ph.D., R.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences in the UAB School of Health Professions and first author on the study.
"There is evidence that the prepubescent years are vitally important for young girls in terms of body composition and the development of good bone density."
Casazza said that a diet high in carbohydrates sets off a metabolic cascade of events, such as an increase in blood serum glucose and insulin and an increase of lipids.
These events are associated with an elevated risk of obesity, with all of its implications of increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.
"Understanding the role carbohydrates play in children's development is important."
"If we can decrease exposure to the risk factors for disease at an early age, perhaps we can reduce the cumulative risk associated with these diseases over time," Casazza added.
The study has been recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.