According to a new study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), replacement of meals with calorie-controlled soups, shakes and bars could be a safe and effective treatment intervention for obesity delivered through general practitioner (GP) services. It is also likely to perform better than other weight loss interventions available in primary care.
Researchers studied 278 overweight adults who were keen on losing weight. They either received a low-energy total diet replacement programme for 24 weeks through their GPs or a standard weight management programme, and their weight-loss progress was monitored.
The total diet replacement programme consisted of replacing all of the regular food with specially formulated soups, shakes and bars for 8 weeks, which meant lowering the calorie intake to 810 calories per day. This was followed by gradual reintroduction of normal meals over next 4 weeks along with regular counselling sessions. From 12 to 24 weeks, replacement of 1 meal every day with a calorie-controlled product was advised.
The findings showed that after 1 year, the average weight loss was 10.7 kg (9 lb) for individuals on the diet replacement programme vs 3.1 kg (7 lb) for those on the standard weight management programme. Additionally, individuals on the diet replacement programme fared better in terms of risk of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes.