BACKGROUND: High intensity exercise is considered as an effective means for reducing body fat. The aims of the present study were to investigate (1) whether body mass would be lost and body composition would change and (2) whether variables of anaerobic fitness prior to the intervention period would be related to loss of body mass and changes in body composition in overweight and obese children and adolescents.
METHODS: A total of 28 children and adolescents (19 boys, 9 girls) attended an 8-week multicomponent inpatient program. Caloric intake was based on the subject's weight and a daily energy deficit of ~500 kcal was targeted. At the beginning and at the end of the program, variables of anaerobic fitness were assessed using Wingate tests. Body composition was measured before and after the program using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry.
RESULTS: Body mass decreased by 11.4% ± 1.6% in boys and by 11.0% ± 2.8% in girls (P < 0.001). Fat mass decreased by 23.8% ± 6.1% in boys and by 21.5% ± 5.2% in girls (P < 0.001). The decrease in fat mass was associated with the decrease in body mass in boys (r = 0.54, P = 0.017) but not in girls (P > 0.05). The decrease in body mass and the decrease in fat mass were neither associated with overall energy expenditure nor with the energy deficit in both genders (P > 0.05). Mean power in W/kg increased in the Wingate tests by 95.4% ± 109.1% in boys and by 100.0% ± 119.9% in girls (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Adjustments of the chronically positive imbalance of energy intake and energy expenditure of obese children and adolescents living in obesogenic environments should be addressed in a multisectoral approach. Future research in multicomponent childhood and adolescent weight loss programs should be directed towards a better understanding of the underlying complex dynamics in energy homeostasis which promote weight loss and changes in body composition due to high intensity exercise interventions.