Low-carbohydrate interventions for adolescent obesity: Nutritional adequacy and guidance for clinical practice

Type Article

Journal Article


H. Jebeile; A. M. Grunseit; M. Thomas; T. Kelly; S. P. Garnett; M. L. Gow

Year of publication



Clin Obes








Low-carbohydrate dietary patterns are re-emerging as a popular method of weight reduction. However, their nutritional adequacy to meet the needs of growing adolescents should be considered. This study aimed to design theoretical low-carbohydrate meal plans for clinical use in the management of adolescent obesity and assess nutritional adequacy. Meal plans were created for three levels of carbohydrate restriction (≤30, ≤50 and ≤120 g/day) without energy, protein or total fat restriction. Nutrient analysis was conducted using the FoodWorks Australia Ltd software (databases: AUSNUT 2013, AusBrands 2017, AusFoods 2017, NUTTAB 2010, New Zealand FOODfiles 2016), and compared with Australian Nutrient Reference Values for male and female adolescents aged 14 to 18 years. All low-carbohydrate meal plans met the Recommended Dietary Intake, Adequate Intake or Estimated Average Requirements for most micronutrients at an energy intake of 6.3 to 7.2 MJ/day (1510-1730 kcal/day). The proportion of energy from saturated fat exceeded recommendations across all models (11.3%-17.1%). Dietary manipulation was required to minimize saturated fat and reach micronutrient adequacy, particularly for calcium in males and females, and iron for females. In practice, this may be challenging considering individual lifestyle and preferences. Therefore, the use of low-carbohydrate diets with adolescents should be monitored by a trained professional to ensure nutritional adequacy.