The study found that both healthy-weight and obese children who participated in an intensive lifestyle modification program significantly improved their metabolic and cardiovascular health despite little weight loss.
"These findings suggest that short-term lifestyle modifications through changing diet and exercise can have an immediate impact on improving risk factors such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes," Christian Roberts, an associate research professor at the UCLA School of Nursing and the study's lead author, said.
"This work underscores the need to focus on changing lifestyle as opposed to focusing on body weight and weight loss," he said.
This study is believed to be the first to compare the effects of changing diet and exercise in both normal-weight and obese children.
Unhealthy lifestyle factors that begin in childhood, such as physical inactivity, lack of exercise training, and diets that are high in refined carbohydrates and fat, contribute to both the development of obesity and other chronic diseases.
But it is unclear whether obesity itself or the associated lifestyle factors are underlying causes of cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction and the related development of chronic disease.
"Even if individuals are at normal weight, they may have metabolic abnormalities and this study demonstrates that health status can be significantly improved by changing lifestyle habits," Roberts said.
The study is published online in the American Journal of Physiology.
--ANI (Posted on 23-08-2013)