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Even Modest Diet and Exercise Can Improve Teen Health

Cutting out the equivalent of a can of soda a day can lead to 'substantial improvements,' study finds

WEDNESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Even modest improvements in nutrition and exercise can improve physical parameters in overweight teenagers and reduce type 2 diabetes risk, according to a report in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Emily Ventura, of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues studied 54 overweight Latino teenagers, who were randomized into three groups: nutrition classes, nutrition classes plus weight training, and a control group with no intervention. At baseline and 16 weeks, the teenagers were assessed for insulin and glucose, body mass, adipose tissue, and dietary intake.

At endpoint, 55 percent had reduced sugar intake with a mean decrease of 47 g/d and 59 percent had increased fiber intake with a mean increase of 5 g/d, the investigators found. Overall, those who decreased sugar had an improvement in glucose incremental area under the curve (−15 percent versus +3 percent); and insulin incremental area under the curve also improved (−33 percent versus −9 percent). Those who increased fiber intake demonstrated reduced body mass index (−2 percent versus +2 percent) and visceral adipose tissue (−10 percent versus no change), the researchers report.

"Modest changes in sugar and fiber consumption, equivalent to omitting one can of soda or adding one serving of beans daily, could lead to substantial improvements in adiposity and metabolic parameters," the authors conclude.

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