Overweight and obese children and adolescents face many physical and psychosocial hardships. Resistance training is a modality of exercise which allows this at-risk group to excel and therefore has the potential to positively affect not only their physical but also psychosocial health.
To systematically review and meta-analyse the peer-reviewed literature to determine the effect of resistance training on the strength, body composition and psychosocial status of overweight and/or obese children and/or adolescents.
Relevant databases (MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Cochrane library, ProQuest) were searched up to and including 30 January 2013.
Included studies (n = 40, from the 2,247 identified) were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), non-randomised controlled trials (NRCTs) and uncontrolled trials (UCTs) which had run an exercise intervention, with a resistance training component, for overweight and/or obese children and/or adolescents, and which had examined the effect of resistance training on either strength, body composition or psychosocial outcomes.
Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods
Studies were initially critically appraised for risk of bias by the lead author, following which both co-authors critically appraised five randomly selected studies to assess reliability.
Randomised controlled trials and NRCTs were analysed separately from UCTs. To determine the overall intervention effect for each outcome variable for each study design group, standardised mean differences were calculated with each individual study/data set weighted by the inverse of the pooled variance. The overall intervention effect reported for RCTs and NRCTs was relative to the control group whereas the effect reported for UCTs shows an overall post-intervention effect. Subgroup analyses, which determined whether the overall intervention effect was influenced by intervention type, training volume, age, sex, risk of bias or study design (for RCT/NRCT group only), were run using the same summary measure. Typically, resistance training had very small to small effects on body composition and moderate to large effects on strength in favour of the intervention. However, the magnitude and direction of the effect of resistance training on psychological outcomes are still unclear given the limited number of studies which looked at psychosocial outcomes and the inconclusive results shown by this review. Uncontrolled trials typically showed larger intervention effects than RCTs and NRCTs; however, these results may be greatly influenced by maturational changes rather than the intervention itself.
The included studies employed a number of different exercise intervention types (e.g. resistance training, resistance plus aerobic training etc.) that ranged from 6 to 52 weeks in duration. Studies also employed a number of different methodologies to assess similar outcome measures (e.g. dual energy X-ray absorptiometry versus skinfolds to assess body composition; one-repetition maximum testing versus hand grip strength to assess strength). However, by completing subgroup analyses and using a standardised summary measure these limitations have been accounted for.
While the effect of resistance training on the body composition and strength of overweight and obese children and adolescents is clear, given the paucity of conclusive data more studies are needed to fully understand the effect of resistance training on the psychosocial status of this population.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Olds T, Tomkinson G, Ferrar K, et al. Trends in the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia between 1985 and 2008. Int J Obes. 2010;34(1):57–66.
Lobstein T, Baur L, Uauy R. Obesity in children and young people: a crisis in public health. Obes Rev. 2004;5:4–85.
Goran M, Ball G, Cruz M. Obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in children and adolescents. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88(4):1417–27.
Eremis S, Cetin N, Tamar M, et al. Is obesity a risk factor for psychopathology among adolescents? Pediatr Int. 2004;46(3):296–301.
McGuigan M, Tatasciore M, Newton R, et al. Eight weeks of resistance training can significantly alter body composition in children who are overweight or obese. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(1):80–5.
Lau P, Kong Z, Choi C, et al. Effects of short-term resistance training on serum leptin levels in obese adolescents. J Exerc Sci Fit. 2010;8(1):54–60.
Naylor L, Watts K, Sharpe J, et al. Resistance training and diastolic myocardial tissue velocities in obese children. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008;40(12):2027–32.
Shaibi G, Cruz M, Ball G, et al. Effects of resistance training on insulin sensitivity in overweight Latino adolescent males. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(7):1208–15.
Treuth M, Hunter G, Figueroa-Colon R, et al. Effects of strength training on intra-abdominal adipose tissue in obese prepubertal girls. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;30(12):1738–43.
Treuth M, Hunter G, Pichon C, et al. Fitness and energy expenditure after strength training in obese prepubertal girls. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;30(7):1130–6.
van der Heijden G, Wang Z, Chu Z, et al. Strength exercise improves muscle mass and hepatic insulin sensitivity in obese youth. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(11):1973–80.
Kim Y. Role of regular exercise in the treatment of abdominal obesity in adolescent boys. Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh; 2010.
Lee S, Bacha F, Hannon T, et al. 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. Diabetes. 2012;61(11):2787–95.
Dove J. Effects of a multicomponent school-based intervention on health markers, body composition, physical fitness, and psychological measures in overweight and obese adolescent females. Waco: Baylor University; 2008.
Shalitin S, Ashkenazi-Hoffnung L, Yackobovitch-Gavan M, et al. Effects of a twelve-week randomized intervention of exercise and/or diet on weight loss and weight maintenance, and other metabolic parameters in obese preadolescent children. Horm Res. 2009;72(5):287–301.
Sung R, Yu C, Chang S, et al. Effects of dietary intervention and strength training on blood lipid level in obese children. Arch Dis Child. 2002;86(6):407–10.
Wilson AJ, Jung ME, Cramp A, et al. Effects of a group-based exercise and self-regulatory intervention on obese adolescents’ physical activity, social cognitions, body composition and strength: a randomized feasibility study. J Health Psychol. 2012;17(8):1223–37.
Yu C, Sung R, Hau K, et al. The effect of diet and strength training on obese children’s physical self-concept. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 2008;48(1):76–82.
Yu C, Sung R, So R, et al. Effects of strength training on body composition and bone mineral content in children who are obese. J Strength Cond Res. 2005;19(3):667–72.
Alberga AS, Sigal RJ, Kenny GP. A review of resistance exercise training in obese adolescents. Phys Sportsmed. 2011;39(2):50–63.
Behringer M, Vom Heede A, Yue Z, et al. Effects of resistance training in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2010;126(5):e1199–210.
Benson AC, Torode ME, Fiatarone Singh MA. Effects of resistance training on metabolic fitness in children and adolescents: a systematic review. Obes Rev. 2008;9(1):43–66.
Komorowski J. Effects of resistance exercise training on body composition and metabolic dysregulation in obese prepubertal children. Wychowanie Fizyczne i Sport. 2006;50(1):5–12.
Watts K, Jones TW, Davies E, et al. Exercise training in obese children and adolescents: current concepts. Sports Med. 2005;35(5):375–92.
Shavelson R, Hubner J, Stanton G. Self-concept: validation of construct interpretations. Rev Educ Res. 1976;46(3):407–41.
Fox K. The effects of exercise on self-perceptions and self-esteem. In: Biddle S, Fox K, Boutcher S, editors. Physical activity and psychological well-being. London: Routledge; 2000.
Sonstroem R. Exercise and self-esteem. Exercise Sports Sci Rev. 1984;12(1):123–65.
de Mello M, de Piano A, Carnier J, et al. Long-term effects of aerobic plus resistance training on the metabolic syndrome and adiponectinemia in obese adolescents. J Clin Hypertens. 2011;13(5):343–50.
Lewis L, Williams M, Olds T. Short-term effects on the mechanism of intervention and physiological outcomes but insufficient evidence of clinical benefits for breathing control: a systematic review. Aust J Physiother. 2007;53(4):219–27.
Egger M, Smith G, Schneider M, et al. Bias in meta-analysis detected by a simple, graphical test. BMJ. 1997;315(7109):629–34.
Rosenthal R. The “File Drawer Problem” and tolerance for null results. Psychol Bull. 1979;86(3):638–41.
Davis J, Gyllenhammer L, Vanni A, et al. Start-up circuit training program reduces metabolic risk in Latino adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exer. 2011;43(11):2195–203.
Davis J, Kelly L, Lane C, et al. Randomized control trial to improve adiposity and insulin resistance in overweight Latino adolescents. Obesity. 2009;17(8):1542–8.
Davis J, Tung A, Chak S, et al. Aerobic and strength training reduces adiposity in overweight Latina adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exer. 2009;41(7):1494–503.
Kim H, Lee S, Kim T, et al. Effects of exercise-induced weight loss on acylated and unacylated ghrelin in overweight children. Clin Endocrinol. 2008;68(3):416–22.
Wong P, Chia M, Tsou I, et al. Effects of a 12-week exercise training programme on aerobic fitness, body composition, blood lipids and C-reactive protein in adolescents with obesity. Ann Acad Med Singap. 2008;37(4):286–93.
Woo K, Chook P, Yu C, et al. Effects of diet and exercise on obesity-related vascular dysfunction in children. Circulation. 2004;109(16):1981–6.
de Piano A, Carnier J, Corgosinho F, et al. Long-term effects of aerobic plus resistance training on the adipokines and neuropeptides in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease obese adolescents. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;24(11):1313–24.
Lison JF, Real-Montes JM, Torro I, et al. Exercise intervention in childhood obesity: a randomized controlled trial comparing hospital- versus home-based groups. Acad Pediatr. 2012;12(4):319–25.
Park JH, Miyashita M, Kwon YC, et al. A 12-week after-school physical activity programme improves endothelial cell function in overweight and obese children: a randomised controlled study. BMC Pediatr. 2012;12:111.
Suh S, Jeong IK, Kim MY, et al. Effects of resistance training and aerobic exercise on insulin sensitivity in overweight Korean adolescents: a controlled randomized trial. Diabetes Metab J. 2011;35(4):418–26.
Lee Y, Song Y, Kim H, et al. The effects of an exercise program on anthropometric, metabolic, and cardiovascular parameters in obese children. Korean Circ J. 2010;40(4):179–84.
Farris JW, Taylor L, Williamson M, et al. A 12-week interdisciplinary intervention program for children who are obese. Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2011;22(4):12–20.
Hardy OT, Wiecha J, Kim A, et al. Effects of a multicomponent wellness intervention on dyslipidemia among overweight adolescents. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2012;25(1–2):79–82.
Rynders C, Weltman A, Delgiorno C, et al. Lifestyle intervention improves fitness independent of metformin in obese adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exer. 2012;44(5):786–92.
Bell L, Watts K, Siafarikas A, et al. Exercise alone reduces insulin resistance in obese children independently of changes in body composition. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(11):4230–5.
Evans R, Franco R, Stern M, et al. Evaluation of a 6-month multi-disciplinary healthy weight management program targeting urban, overweight adolescents: effects on physical fitness, physical activity, and blood lipid profiles. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2009;4(3):130–3.
Foschini D, Arajo R, Bacurau R, et al. Treatment of obese adolescents: the influence of periodization models and ACE genotype. Obesity. 2010;18(4):766–72.
Lazzer S, Boirie Y, Montaurier C, et al. A weight reduction program preserves fat-free mass but not metabolic rate in obese adolescents. Obes Res. 2004;12(2):233–40.
Lazzer S, Boirie Y, Poissonnier C, et al. Longitudinal changes in activity patterns, physical capacities, energy expenditure, and body composition in severely obese adolescents during a multidisciplinary weight-reduction program. Int J Obes. 2005;29(1):37–46.
Lazzer S, Vermorel M, Montaurier C, et al. Changes in adipocyte hormones and lipid oxidation associated with weight loss and regain in severely obese adolescents. Int J Obes. 2005;29(10):1184–91.
Sothern M, Almen T, Schumacher H, et al. A multidisciplinary approach to the treatment of childhood obesity. Del Med J. 1999;71:255–61.
Sothern M, Loftin J, Udall J, et al. Inclusion of resistance exercise in a multidisciplinary outpatient treatment program for preadolescent obese children. South Med J. 1999;92(6):585–92.
Sothern M, Udall J, Suskind R, et al. Weight loss and growth velocity in obese children after very low calorie diet, exercise, and behavior modification. Acta Paediatr. 2000;89(9):1036–43.
Wickham E, Stern M, Evans R, et al. Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among obese adolescents enrolled in a multidisciplinary weight management program: clinical correlates and response to treatment. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2009;7(3):179–86.
Cohen J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Erlbaum; 1988.
Elloumi M, Ben Ounis O, Makni E, et al. Effect of individualized weight-loss programmes on adiponectin, leptin and resistin levels in obese adolescent boys. Acta Paediatr. 2009;98(9):1487–93.
Tjonna A, Stolen T, Bye A, et al. Aerobic interval training reduces cardiovascular risk factors more than a multitreatment approach in overweight adolescents. Clini Sci. 2009;116:317–26.
Daley A, Copeland R, Wright N, et al. Exercise therapy as a treatment for psychopathologic conditions in obese and morbidly obese adolescents: a randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics. 2006;118(5):2126–35.
Kim E, Im J, Kim K, et al. Improved insulin sensitivity and adiponectin level after exercise training in obese Korean youth. Obesity. 2007;15(12):3023–30.
Nassis G, Papantakoua K, Skenderia K, et al. Aerobic exercise training improves insulin sensitivity without changes in body weight, body fat, adiponectin, and inflammatory markers in overweight and obese girls. Metabolism. 2005;54(11):1472–9.
Stella S, Vilar A, Lacroix C, et al. Effects of type of physical exercise and leisure activities on the depression scores of obese Brazilian adolescent girls. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2005;38(11):1683–9.
van der Heijden G, Wang Z, Chu Z, et al. A 12-week aerobic exercise program reduces hepatic fat accumulation and insulin resistance in obese, Hispanic adolescents. Obesity. 2010;18(2):384–90.
LeMura LM, Maziekas MT. Factors that alter body fat, body mass, and fat-free mass in pediatric obesity. Med Sci Sports Exer. 2002;34(3):487–96.
Maziekas MT, LeMura LM, Stoddard NM, et al. Follow up exercise studies in paediatric obesity: implications for long term effectiveness. Br J Sports Med. 2003;37(5):425–9.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Department of Health and Human Services. Resource guide for nutrition and physical activity interventions to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases. 2000. http://www.cdc/gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity/state_programs/index.htm.
Committee on Nutrition and Committee on Child Health and Statistics. Guideline of diagnosis and treatment in childhood obesity. J Korean Pediatr Soc. 1999;42:1338–45.
Cole T, Bellizzi M, Flegal K, et al. Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey. BMJ. 2000;320:1240–3.
The Committee for the Development of Growth Standard for Korean Children and Adolescents: 2007 Korean children and adolescents growth standard (commentary for the development of 2007 growth chart). In: The Committee for the Development of Growth Standard for Korean Children and Adolescents.
Leung S, Lau J, Tse L. Weight-for-age and weight-for-height references for Hong Kong children from birth to 18 years. J Paediatr Child Health. 1996;32:103–9.
Hamill P, Drizd T, Johnson C, et al. Physical growth: national center for health statistics percentiles. Am J Clin Nutr. 1979;32:607–29.
Arkansas Center for Health Improvement (ACHI). Year five assessment of childhood and adolescent obesity in Arkansas Little Rock. Arkansas, ACHI; September 2008.
Rolland-Cachera M, Cole T, Sempe M, et al. Body mass index variations: centiles from birth to 87 years. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1991;45:13–21.
Freedman D, Ogden C, Berenson GS, et al. Body mass index and body fatness in childhood. J Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2005;8:618–23.
Kuczamarski R, Ogden C, Guo S, et al. CDC growth charts for the United States: methods and development. National Center Health Stat. 2000; (246).
There are no relevant conflicts of interest which need to be declared. We would like to thank Mr John Petkov for all of his statistical advice, may he rest in peace.
No funding was awarded for the completion of this review.
About this article
Cite this article
Schranz, N., Tomkinson, G. & Olds, T. What is the Effect of Resistance Training on the Strength, Body Composition and Psychosocial Status of Overweight and Obese Children and Adolescents? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med 43, 893–907 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0062-9
- Body Composition
- Resistance Training
- Obese Child
- Standardise Mean Difference
- Aerobic Training