NYMC Faculty Publications

Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet: A Successful Strategy for Short-Term Management in Youth with Severe Obesity-An Observational Study

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Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders

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Background: Obesity affects ∼20% of children in the United States and reports of successful dietary treatment are lacking. This study aimed to determine the change in body weight in severely obese youth after carbohydrate-restricted dietary intervention. Methods: This single-center study of a carbohydrate-restricted diet (≤30 grams per day), with unlimited calories, fat, and protein for 3-4 months, examined two groups of severely obese youth of ages 5-18 years: Group A, retrospectively reviewed charts of severely obese youth referred to the Pediatric Obesity Clinic at Hoops Family Children's Hospital and the Ambulatory Division of Marshall Pediatrics, Marshall University School of Medicine, in Huntington, WV, between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2017 (n = 130), and Group B, prospective participants, referred between July 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018, followed with laboratory studies pre- and postdietary intervention (n = 8). Results: In Group A, 310 participants began the diet, 130 (42%) returned after 3-4 months. Group B had 14 enrollees who began the diet, and 8 followed up at 3-4 months (57%). Girls compared with boys were more likely to complete the diet (P = 0.02). Participants <12 years age were almost twice as likely to complete the diet compared with those 12-18 years (64% vs. 36%, P < 0.01); however, the older group subjects who completed the diet had the same percentage of weight loss compared with those <12 years (6.9% vs. 6.9%). Group A had reductions in weight of 5.1 kg (P < 0.001), body mass index (BMI) 2.5 kg/m2 (P < 0.001), and percentage weight loss 6.9% (P < 0.001). Group B had reductions in weight 9.6 kg (P < 0.01), BMI 4 kg/m2 (P < 0.01), and percentage weight loss 9% (P < 0.01). In addition, participants had significant reductions of fasting serum insulin (P < 0.01), triglycerides (P < 0.01), and 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (P < 0.01). Conclusions: This study demonstrated a carbohydrate-restricted diet, utilized short term, effectively reduced weight in a large percentage of severely obese youth, and can be replicated in a busy primary care office.