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Meal replacements might not help obese teens lose weight and keep it off

December 20, 2010|By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Meal replacements can help obese adults lose weight, but what about obese teens? That's what researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia wondered. And they set out to get the answer, studying 113 obese adolescents for a year.

Some adolescents initially were assigned to eat fewer calories (1,300 to 1,500 a day), but of normal food. Others were told to take in three SlimFast Shakes, a "pre-packaged meal" and servings of fruits or vegetables.

After four months, researchers began modifying some of the assignments for comparison purposes. Read the nitty gritty in the study abstract here that was published in Obesity.

The upshot: Those shakes work for a while, better than low-calorie diets of so-called self-selected foods, in fact. But ultimately, maintenance proved a problem. That is, the weight came back for pretty much everyone, resulting in -- we'll let the researchers say it -- "no significant differences between groups in percentage change in BMI at month 12."

Back to the drawing board? Here's a collection of resources that might prove more effective in the long term.

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