Are meal replacements an effective strategy for treating obesity in adults with features of metabolic syndrome?

Noakes, M.; Foster, P. R.; Keogh, J. B.; Clifton, P. M.
June 2004
Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition;2004 Supplement, Vol. 13, pS63
Academic Journal
Background - Meal replacements as a weight loss strategy are widely used, however their effectiveness outside controlled clinical trial environments is unknown. Objective - To compare meal replacements with a structured weight reduction diet in overweight/obese Australians with raised triglycerides. Design - In a randomised parallel design, 2 groups [Meal Replacement (MR) and Control (C)] of 66 matched subjects underwent a 6000kj intervention for 3 months (stage 1) and a further 3 months (stage 2). Groups were provided oral and written information. C was supplied shopping vouchers and followed a low fat/energy diet. MR was supplied Slimfast product for two meals (1800kj) and consumed a low fat evening meal. Clients were weighed every 2-wk, received structured supervision without professional dietary input, with compliance assessed by 3d-weighed food records. Blood biomarkers assessed fruit/vegetable intake and questionnaire assessed attitudes to treatment. Outcomes - Fifty-five subjects completed stage 1 and 42 stage 2. Mean weight loss was comparable in both groups at 3 months (6.0 ± 4.2 kg ± sem MR, 6.6 ± 3.4 kg C) and at 6 months (9.0 ± 6.9 kg MR, 9.2 ± 5.1 kg C). Serum folate and plasma â-carotene were higher in MR, and plasma homocysteine fell in both groups. Diets were nutritionally adequate in both groups, but some nutrient intakes were higher in MR than C. The MR program was viewed by subjects remaining in the study as acceptable and convenient, thereby aiding compliance. Conclusions - A meal replacement program is equally effective for losing weight compared to a conventional but structured weight loss diet. Meal replacements offer a convenient and potentially nutritionally beneficial weight loss alternative than conventionally structured weight loss diets.


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