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Child Obes. 2013 Jun;9(3):252-60. doi: 10.1089/chi.2013.0022. Epub 2013 May 24.

A low-glycemic-load versus low-fat diet in the treatment of fatty liver in obese children.

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New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



Fatty liver is highly prevalent among obese children and represents a major risk factor for chronic liver diseases and severe metabolic complications.


We randomly assigned 17 obese children 8-17 years of age with fatty liver to either an experimental low-glycemic-load or conventional low-fat diet for 6 months. Participants in both groups received nutrition education and behavioral counseling of equal intensity. The primary outcome was hepatic lipid content measured by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Secondary outcomes included change in visceral fat, BMI, anthropometrics, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and insulin resistance.


A total of 16 participants completed the study. Reported glycemic load decreased in the low-glycemic-load group and reported dietary fat decreased in the low-fat group. At baseline, liver fat was 23.8% [standard deviation (SD) 12.2] in the low-glycemic-load group and 29.3% (14.1) in the low-fat group. Liver fat decreased substantially in both groups at 6 months expressed as absolute percentage change, with no between-group differences [-8.8 (standard error (SE) 4.1) vs. -10.5 (3.7)%, respectively, p=0.76 for groupĂ—time interaction]. Secondary outcomes also improved on both diets, with no between-group differences. Baseline and change in ALT were strongly associated with hepatic fat content.


Weight-reducing diets focused either on glycemic load or dietary fat improved hepatic steatosis over 6 months. Additional research is needed to determine whether these diets differ in effectiveness over the long term.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT00480922.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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