Liquid meal replacements helped overweight diabetes patients lose an average of about five pounds more than others who tried a conventional low-calorie diet, according to a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
The analysis, which was commissioned by the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, compared outcomes of patients on various diets after 24 weeks and also found liquid meal replacements contributed to better reductions of body mass index and systolic blood pressure.
The review is published in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.
"This study suggests there's one more tool for patients with diabetes to help them meet their weight-loss goals," said lead author Dr. John Sievenpiper of Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital.
"This is another way to achieve weight-loss goals but I'd emphasize there is no best way. The method that's superior is the one the individual themselves is able to follow and sustain."
The median estimated dose of liquid meal replacement being used by patients represented about 20 percent of their total energy intake. This review suggests the use of liquid meal replacements within a structured dietary plan may offer a viable solution when replacing one or two meals each day and supplemented with fruits, vegetables and nuts to achieve a targeted daily caloric intake.
"I think liquid meal replacements could be a way to get to weight loss and then work on achieving a healthier diet to maintain that weight loss," said Dr. Sievenpiper, who is also a scientist with the hospital's Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute and the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre.
The review also analyzed how liquid meal replacements performed in randomized controlled trials for other factors such as body fat, waist circumference and diastolic blood pressure but only marginal clinical significance was observed.
This research was funded in part by the Diabetes and Nutrition Study Group of the European Association of the Study of Diabetes, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research through the Canada-wide Human Nutrition Trialists' Network, and the Diet, Digestive tract, and Disease (3-D) Centre through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ministry of Research and Innovation's Ontario Research Fund.
Dr. Sievenpiper has previously received research funding or travel or consulting fees from a number of food companies including Abbott Nutrition and Nestle, which both produce liquid meal replacements. They were not involved in this research. A full list of disclosures is listed within the article.
About St. Michael's Hospital and Unity Health Toronto:
Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph's Health Centre and St. Michael's Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit http://www.unityhealth.to.