CLEVELAND – A recent study from Cleveland Clinic Children’s shows the benefits of three different types of diets for children who are obese.
According to the CDC, one in five children and adolescents in the United States has obesity.
“We studied 9 to 18 year olds who were at the greater than 95th percentile for their body mass index, which is the definition of obesity,” explained Michael Macknin, MD, pediatrician for Cleveland Clinic. “We studied them and one of their parents and randomly assigned them to one of three healthy eating patterns: the Mediterranean diet, the American Heart Association diet or a plant based diet.”
Dr. Macknin said they discovered all three of the diets had similar results when it came to improving a child’s health. There were significant decreases in weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. The risk for heart disease also declined.
He said they made some interesting discoveries along the way, like the child didn’t have to be perfect in the way they ate. The average compliance was just 55 to 65% throughout the year-long study, yet they still saw impressive changes.
“We encourage everybody to follow these principles that are common to all healthy eating patterns. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables of a variety of sources and then also have whole grains, and when you eat protein, make it a healthy protein. Don’t eat too much red meat or processed meat,” he advised.
Dr. Macknin said another finding during the study was that children had an easier time adapting to the new diets than their parents, which highlights the importance of introducing healthy habits at an early age.