Dr. Chris Roberts, College of California Los Angeles – Life-style and Teen Weight problems

In today’s academic minute, Dr. Chris Roberts of the University of California at Los Angeles explored the relationship between lifestyle and health in teenagers.

Dr. Chris Roberts, University of California, Los Angeles – Teenage Lifestyle and Obesity

Chris Roberts is an Associate Research Professor at the UCLA School of Nursing. As the lead researcher at EMDR (Exercise and Metabolic Disease Research Laboratory), Roberts studies the effectiveness and mechanisms by which exercise training and diet interventions prevent metabolic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. His work on exercise and metabolic disorders is widespread.

About Dr. Roberts

Dr. Chris Roberts – Lifestyle and Teenage Obesity

In the United States, more than a third of teenagers are overweight or obese. The unhealthy lifestyle factors that start in childhood, such as physical inactivity, lack of exercise training, and diets high in refined carbohydrates and fat, contribute to the development of obesity as well as diseases such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even certain Forms of cancer. However, it is unclear whether obesity itself or the lifestyle factors associated with it are the underlying causes of cardiovascular and metabolic dysfunction and the associated development of chronic diseases.

We wanted to learn more about the effects of lifestyle changes on slim and obese children. Both groups of children took part in a two-week intensive lifestyle change program that included a high-fiber, plant-based diet and exercising for about two hours each day.

Conventional evidence suggests that changes would only affect the obese children, but in fact both groups improved their risk factors in a similar manner with little weight loss, and in fact there was no weight loss in the lean children!

Our results suggest that short-term lifestyle changes through diet and exercise can have an immediate impact on improving cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. And regardless of whether children are obese or not, they can improve their health without losing weight or reversing obesity. We believe these results are important as they illustrate the need to shift focus to lifestyle change rather than just focusing on body weight and weight loss.

Our next step is to conduct a randomized controlled trial that will examine the effects of lifestyle interventions in normal weight and obese adults.

Academic minute production support comes from Newman’s Own, who donates all profits to charity and has worked for the common good for over 30 years, and Mount Holyoke College.

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