meal replacement

A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated a meal replacement and home food environment intervention for long-term weight loss.

A meal replacement (MR) represents one avenue in improving long-term weight loss. They are a nutrition-focused approach that requires the participants to make changes in the energy density, composition, and structure of the foods in their nutritional intake. In addition, studies have found support specifically for reducing the energy density of the diet and manipulating the glycemic index as well as the protein content of the diet to increase weight loss.

A randomized controlled trial study was recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which evaluated meal replacements and home food environment interventions for long-term weight loss. These researchers in the US compared three conditions: behaviour therapy (BT), BT plus MRs (BT + MR), and a nutrition-focused treatment aimed to modify the home food environment (HFE). Rowe and colleagues enrolled 262 overweight and obese individuals and randomly assigned them to one of the three conditions. The treatment occurred in weekly groups for six months and in biweekly groups for six additional months. Moreover, the participants were assessed at baseline and at 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months.

The results indicated that all three groups showed significant weight loss over 12 months which was gradually regained by the 36 months follow-up. Additionally, the participants who were in the home food environment condition lost more weight compared to those who received behaviour therapy treatment, either with or without a meal replacement through the 36 months assessment. Furthermore, home food environment patients produced the largest increase in cognitive restraint. The increase in cognitive restraint was believed to mediate the home food environment group’s improved weight loss.

All in all, a nutritionally focused treatment resulted in better long-term weight losses than the standard behaviour therapy. It was also believed that the unexpected boost in cognitive restraint acted as an intermediate in an improved weight loss of the home food environment patients.

Written by Alexa Deano

Reference: Lowe, M. R., Butryn, M. L., & Zhang, F. (2018). Evaluation of meal replacements and a home food environment intervention for long-term weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition107(1), 12-19.

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