Loughborough University
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Effect of manipulations in exercise and breakfast on metabolism in overweight and non-overweight children and adolescents

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posted on 2012-03-15, 13:40 authored by Julia K. Zakrzewski
Obesity and insulin resistance are serious health concerns in children and adolescents (young people). Interventions to increase the potential for fat oxidation and improve insulin sensitivity could have widespread clinical relevance. Although exercise is often advocated for health, the factors implicated in the relationship between exercise, fat oxidation and insulin resistance are not well understood in young people. This thesis has investigated the effect of manipulations in exercise and breakfast on metabolism in young people, focusing on fat oxidation and postprandial blood glucose control. The first experimental study, Chapter 4, compared two different exercise protocols for estimating the intensity corresponding to maximal fat oxidation (Fatmax) in non-overweight prepubertal children. A 3 min incremental protocol was recommended to provide an estimation of Fatmax using a wide range of intensities in this population. Using this protocol, Chapter 5 demonstrated that Fatmax was higher for treadmill compared with cycling exercise in pre- to early pubertal children. Furthermore, treadmill exercise resulted in higher rates of fat oxidation over a range of absolute and relative intensities and fat oxidation remained high over a wider range of intensities. Therefore, treadmill exercise (walking or slow running) is clearly preferential for promoting fat oxidation in this population. Subsequently, Chapter 6 examined the effect of mixed breakfast meals containing high (HGI) and low (LGI) glycaemic index carbohydrates on blood glucose, plasma insulin and fat oxidation in overweight and non-overweight girls. Breakfast GI did not affect fat oxidation during the postprandial rest period or subsequent exercise. However, the main finding of this study related to blood glucose; the higher blood glucose response following the HGI compared with LGI breakfast was more pronounced in the overweight girls. This suggested a reduced ability to cope with the metabolic demands of HGI breakfast consumption in overweight girls and highlighted that strategies to reduce insulin resistance in this population are required. Consequently, Chapter 7 investigated the effect of treadmill exercise at Fatmax performed 16 h prior to HGI breakfast consumption on blood glucose, plasma insulin and fat oxidation in overweight and non-overweight girls. Fatmax exercise reduced the postprandial insulin response in the non-overweight, but not the overweight, girls while blood glucose was unchanged in both groups. More encouragingly, fat oxidation was increased after exercise in both the overweight and non-overweight girls. Collectively, the four experimental studies within this thesis have demonstrated that treadmill exercise at Fatmax is an effective means of elevating fat oxidation both during and up to 16 h after exercise. When considering postprandial glucose and insulin responses to HGI breakfast consumption, LGI breakfasts should be recommended for overweight girls, whilst acute treadmill exercise at Fatmax can reduce postprandial insulin concentrations in non-overweight girls. Walking or slow running (Fatmax treadmill exercise) and LGI breakfast consumption may be best advocated in combination for promoting fat oxidation and improving postprandial blood glucose control in young people. These two simple lifestyle-related strategies may provide an effective, safe and attractive means for preventing and treating obesity, insulin resistance and related disorders. Key words: exercise, metabolism, substrate oxidation, fat oxidation, glucose, insulin, glycaemic index, overweight, children, adolescents.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Julia Zakrzewski

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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