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Arch Intern Med. 2001 Jul 9;161(13):1599-604.

Weight control in the physician's office.

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  • 1University of Nevada School of Medicine, Nutrition Education and Research Program, Redfield Building MS 153, Reno, NV 89557, USA.



Lifestyle changes involving diet, behavior, and physical activity are the cornerstone of successful weight control. Incorporating meal replacements (1-2 per day) into traditional lifestyle interventions may offer an additional strategy for overweight patients in the primary care setting.


One hundred thirteen overweight premenopausal women (mean +/- SD age, 40.4 +/- 5.5 years; weight, 82 +/- 10 kg; and body mass index, 30 +/- 3 kg/m(2)) participated in a 1-year weight-reduction study consisting of 26 sessions. The women were randomly assigned to 3 different traditional lifestyle-based groups: (1) dietitian-led group intervention (1 hour per session), (2) dietitian-led group intervention incorporating meal replacements (1 hour per session), or (3) primary care office intervention incorporating meal replacements with individual physician and nurse visits (10-15 minutes per visit).


For the 74 subjects (65%) completing 1 year, the primary care office intervention using meal replacements was as effective as the traditional dietitian-led group intervention not using meal replacements (mean +/- SD weight loss, 4.3% +/- 6.5% vs 4.1% +/- 6.4%, respectively). Comparison of the dietitian-led groups showed that women using meal replacements maintained a significantly greater weight loss (9.1% +/- 8.9% vs 4.1% +/- 6.4%) (P =.03). Analysis across groups showed that weight loss of 5% to 10% was associated with significant (P =.01) reduction in percentage of body fat, body mass index, waist circumference, resting energy expenditure, insulin level, total cholesterol level, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level. Weight loss of 10% or greater was associated with additional significant (P =.05) improvements in blood pressure and triglyceride level.


A traditional lifestyle intervention using meal replacements can be effective for weight control and reduction in risk of chronic disease in the physician's office setting as well as in the dietitian-led group setting.

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