Effects of Aerobic Versus Resistance Exercise Without Caloric Restriction on Abdominal Fat, Intrahepatic Lipid, and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Adolescent Boys

A Randomized, Controlled Trial

  1. Silva Arslanian1,2
  1. 1Division of Weight Management & Wellness, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  2. 2Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes Mellitus, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  3. 3Children’s Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, Section of Pediatric Endocrinology & Diabetology, Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana
  5. 5School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  6. 6Department of Clinical Research/AMSM, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Corresponding author: SoJung Lee, SoJung.Lee{at}


The optimal exercise modality for reductions of abdominal obesity and risk factors for type 2 diabetes in youth is unknown. We examined the effects of aerobic exercise (AE) versus resistance exercise (RE) without caloric restriction on abdominal adiposity, ectopic fat, and insulin sensitivity and secretion in youth. Forty-five obese adolescent boys were randomly assigned to one of three 3-month interventions: AE, RE, or a nonexercising control. Abdominal fat was assessed by magnetic resonance imaging, and intrahepatic lipid and intramyocellular lipid were assessed by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Insulin sensitivity and secretion were evaluated by a 3-h hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and a 2-h hyperglycemic clamp. Both AE and RE prevented the significant weight gain that was observed in controls. Compared with controls, significant reductions in total and visceral fat and intrahepatic lipid were observed in both exercise groups. Compared with controls, a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity (27%) was observed in the RE group. Collapsed across groups, changes in visceral fat were associated with changes in intrahepatic lipid (r = 0.72) and insulin sensitivity (r = −0.47). Both AE and RE alone are effective for reducing abdominal fat and intrahepatic lipid in obese adolescent boys. RE but not AE is also associated with significant improvements in insulin sensitivity.

  • Received February 21, 2012.
  • Accepted May 4, 2012.

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  1. Diabetes vol. 61 no. 11 2787-2795
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