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Diabetes Educ. 2008 Jan-Feb;34(1):118-27. doi: 10.1177/0145721707312463.

Efficacy of meal replacements versus a standard food-based diet for weight loss in type 2 diabetes: a controlled clinical trial.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Center for Human Nutrition, Baltimore, MD 21205-2179, USA.



The purpose of this study is to compare the efficacy of a portion-controlled meal replacement diet (PCD) to a standard diet (SD) based on recommendations by the American Diabetes Association in achieving and maintaining weight loss among obese participants with type 2 diabetes.


This study is a university-based, controlled clinical trial. Participants were 119 men and women with diabetes with a body mass index between 25 and 40 kg/m(2), assigned randomly to one of two 34-week, 75% of predicted energy need diets (portion controlled or standard, self-selected, food based) and then followed by 1-year maintenance.


Using intention-to-treat analyses, weight loss at 34 weeks and weight maintenance at 86 weeks was significantly better on PCD versus SD. Approximately 40% of the PCD participants lost > or =5% of their initial weight compared with 12% of those on the SD. Significant improvements in biochemical and metabolic measures were observed at 34 weeks in both groups. The retention rate and self-reported ease of adherence in the PCD group were significantly higher throughout the study.


A diet using portion-controlled meal replacements yielded significantly greater initial weight loss and less regain after 1 year of maintenance than a standard, self-selected, food-based diet. As PCDs may help obese patients with type 2 diabetes adhere to a weight control program, diabetes educators may consider recommending them as part of a comprehensive approach to weight control.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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