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Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
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  • Published on:
    Letter to the editor
    • Matthew A Hollings, PhD Student University of Sydney
    • Other Contributors:
      • Jeff S Coombes, Professor
      • Yorgi Mavros, Lecturer
      • Shelley E Keating, NHMRC Early Career Fellow
      • Maria A Fiatarone Singh, Professor

    After careful appraisal and following our own investigations, we are concerned that the article “Is interval training the magic bullet for fat loss? A systematic review and meta-analysis comparing moderate-intensity continuous training with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)” [1] may have some data extraction and analysis errors that warrant further review by the editor and authors, and which more concerningly, may impact the original conclusions of the article.

    We were initially concerned about the reported results within the Thomas et al. paper [2], particularly the biological plausibility of a mean between-group fat-loss difference of 13.44 kg over 12 weeks. Given that the authors did not report any study-level data, we decided to investigate the effect size within this paper. However, this study [2] did not report any fat mass data, only % body fat data. Given that the authors of the review [1] reported “When studies provided insufficient data for inclusion in the meta-analysis (five studies), the corresponding authors were contacted via email to determine whether additional data could be provided; however, no corresponding authors responded.”, it is unclear how an unpublished mean difference of -13.44 kg in favour of HIIT/SIT could be presented within the fat mass analysis of this review. Furthermore, when reviewing another of the included studies [3], we found that fat mass data were reported, but not included in the current meta-analysis [1]. Given the m...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Response to 'A few unanswered questions'

    Dear Dr. Anoop Balachandran

    We would like to thank you for your insightful and interesting comment.

    Regarding the first point, we presented the 28.5% to illustrate the relative difference in total absolute fat (kg) change between interventions, so the reader could have information about the relative difference between groups. We would like to highlight that it was only possible to perform this analysis using the within group changes, since the change between group analysis was showed in absolute values.

    About the second point, it was not our purpose to analyse lean body mass; however, we agree that this topic is very important for health and athletic performance purposes. This is an unanswered question and we are performing studies to test the effects of interval training on lean body mass to help shedding light in the topic.

    Best regards.

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    A few unanswered questions

    The study raises two questions that one of the authors might be able to help with:

    First, the authors report both within group and between group changes in body fat in the abstract. But it is unclear why the authors chose the within-group changes (28% fat loss) as the study conclusion than the between-group change.

    The within group change showed a fat loss of 0.45 kg (28%) in favor of interval training (IT), while the between-group changes showed a large difference of 2.28 kg of fat loss in favor of IT. Considering the large difference in fat loss, and some studies recommending to avoid within group differences in meta-analysis, it would be helpful if the authors could comment on this.

    Second, maintaining lean body mass (LBM) is one of the primary reasons to include exercise as part of a weight loss strategy. So it is not clear why the authors chose not to include lean body mass as one of the outcomes. It would have certainly helped the reader to make a decision regarding the choice of exercise for weight loss.

    Finally, congratulations to all the authors for asking a very relevant question!.

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.