HealthSafe and Effective: Very Low Calorie Diets for Teens with Obesity Under...

Safe and Effective: Very Low Calorie Diets for Teens with Obesity Under Dietitian Supervision, According to Researchers

low calorie diet

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A recent study set to be presented at the European Congress on Obesity (ECO 2024) has found that short-term very low calorie diets can be a safe and effective option for teenagers dealing with moderate to severe obesity, as long as they are closely supervised by a knowledgeable dietitian.

This research, conducted in Australia, also discovered that many adolescents involved in the study found very low calorie diets to be a viable method for weight loss, despite experiencing some side effects along the way.

Very low energy diets (VLED) are diets that restrict caloric intake to ≤ 800 calories per day and usually include meal replacements such as bars and shakes to ensure all essential nutrients are still being consumed. These diets offer an alternative weight loss solution for young individuals who have not seen results from traditional diet and exercise programs, and can even serve as a transitional phase before adopting a balanced, healthy diet.

While VLEDs have been proven to result in rapid weight loss in teenagers, there is a lack of data regarding the common side effects (e.g., headaches, fatigue, constipation) and the overall acceptability of these diets among young people. Additionally, there is limited information on how VLEDs impact growth, heart health, and mental well-being in teenagers, which has made some healthcare professionals hesitant to recommend them for this age group.

Dr. Megan Gow and her team at Children’s Hospital Westmead Clinical School, The University of Sydney, conducted a sub-analysis of data from the Fast Track to Health study, a 52-week investigation into the acceptability of various eating plans for adolescents with obesity.

During the first four weeks of Fast Track to Health, participants followed a balanced VLED to kickstart their weight loss journey. The study included 141 teenagers (70 females) between the ages of 13 and 17 with obesity and at least one related complication such as high blood pressure or insulin resistance. These participants consumed 800 calories per day from meal replacement products like shakes, soups, and bars, along with low-carb vegetables and some vegetable oil.

A registered dietician provided support on a weekly basis, and weight measurements were taken at the beginning and end of the four-week period. Side effects were monitored throughout the study, and participants were asked to complete a survey on the acceptability of the VLED, including what they enjoyed and disliked about it.

Despite experiencing common side effects like hunger and fatigue, nearly all the adolescents completed the VLED, with an average weight loss of 5.5kg (12lb). An overwhelming majority (95%) reported at least one side effect, with many (70%) reporting three or more side effects including hunger, fatigue, headaches, and irritability.

Overall, this study sheds light on the potential benefits and challenges of very low calorie diets for teenagers dealing with obesity, and underscores the importance of proper supervision and monitoring when implementing such dietary interventions.

Source: Medical Xpress

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