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(Reuters Health) – Overweight or obese adolescents who have intellectual or developmental disabilities may have an easier time losing weight with a portion control diet that uses traffic light colors to signal the best eating and exercise choices, a small study suggests.

Researchers compared the effectiveness of this so-called enhanced “stop light” diet to a conventional meal plan diet. They randomized 110 adolescents to one of three interventions for six months: video conference delivery of the stop light diet or the conventional meal plan diet, amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium tablets usp or face-to-face delivery of the conventional meal plan diet.

From baseline to six months, mean weight loss was significantly greater with the stop light diet (5.0 kg, 6.4% of body weight) than with remote delivery of the conventional meal plan (1.8 kg, 2.4% of body weight) or with face-to-face delivery of the conventional meal plan (0.3 kg, 0.2% of body weight).

“Our results suggest that an enhanced stop light diet, delivered remotely as part of a multicomponent weight management intervention tailored to participants’ cognitive abilities, is a viable strategy to achieve 6-month weight loss in adolescents with mild to moderate intellectual or developmental disabilities who are overweight or obese,” the study team writes in Pediatrics.

All study participants had mild to moderate intellectual or developmental disabilities, defined as an IQ of 40 to 74 confirmed by a primary care provider, and were overweight or obese based on BMI.

Before the start of weight-loss interventions, health educators made two home visits with adolescents and their parents to review the diet and physical activity components of the programs and to ensure that families were set up to use technology for remote delivery of the programs.

Parents attended all the remote or face-to-face sessions with teens. Parents were also asked to manage grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, exercise routines, and monitoring of activity levels and weight.

For the trial, youth on the stop light diet were asked to eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, as well as two shakes and two entrees provided by the trial. With the conventional diet plan, youth were asked to get five daily servings of fruits and vegetables and then follow U.S. dietary guidelines.

With both interventions, youth were asked to get 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

The main limitation of the study, the authors note, is that they were unable to get enough data on how well youth followed activity recommendations or what participants actually ate to determine compliance with the interventions.

However, the results still suggest the enhanced stop-light diet is a viable alternative to conventional meal plan diets, the researchers conclude.

“Six-month weight loss did not differ when a conventional was delivered either remotely or face-to-face, suggesting that remote may be a viable alternative for the delivery of weight loss interventions to adolescents with intellectual or developmental disabilities, with the potential for improved dissemination and reach,” the study team writes.

SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2Xdn1Hq Pediatrics, online August 19, 2021.

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