High-intensity interval training in overweight and obese children and adolescents: systematic review and meta-analysis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • INTRODUCTION: While High Intensity Interval Training is praised in many populations for its beneficial effects on body composition and cardiometabolic health, its use among obese youth remain uncertain. This study aimed at determining whether HIIT is effective to improve aerobic fitness and reduce cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight and obese youth. EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A systematic search was conducted and articles reporting studies that investigated the effects of HIIT in 6 to 18-year-old youth were eligible. Meta-analyses were performed when appropriate. EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Fifteen studies were included for the systematic review and meta-analyses. HIIT significantly improves maximal oxygen uptake (1.117 [95% CI: 0.528 to 1.706], P<0.001), and reduces body mass (-0.295 [95% CI: -0.525 to -0.066], P<0.05), body fat (-0.786 [95% CI: -1.452 to -0.120], P<0.05), systolic and diastolic blood pressure (-1.026 [95% CI: -1.370 to -0.683], P<0.001; -0.966 [95% CI: -1.628 to -0.304], P<0.01 respectively), and the HOMA-IR (-1.589 [95% CI: -2.528 to -0.650], P<0.01). However, there is significant heterogeneity, and low to high inconsistency for most cardiometabolic risk factors and aerobic fitness. CONCLUSIONS: Although few studies have reported cardiometabolic risks, HIIT may also be as effective as traditional endurance continuous training to decrease blood pressure and insulin resistance. HIIT is effective to improve aerobic fitness, body composition, and cardiometabolic risk factors in obese youth, but data are insufficient to determine whether it is more effective than traditional continuous submaximal intensity exercise training.


  • Thivel, David
  • Masurier, Julie
  • Baquet, Georges
  • Timmons, Brian
  • Pereira, Bruno
  • Berthoin, Serge
  • Duclos, Martine
  • Aucouturier, Julien

publication date

  • January 2019