Low-Energy Formula Meal Replacements Are Effective Weight Management Diets for T2D

Almost 80% of individuals with type 2 diabetes lost more than 22 pounds and maintained that weight loss in remission for at least 2 years, study results show.

Low-energy diets with formula meal replacements are the most effective methods of weight management and remission for individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D), while macronutrient content is not important to outcomes, the results of a new study show.

Investigators analyzed published meta-analyses of which type of diet is best for achieving and maintaining weight loss for individuals with T2D.

“Published meta-analyses of diets for weight management in people with type 2 diabetes do not support recommending any particular macronutrient profile or style over others. Very low-energy diets and formula meal replacement appear the most effective approaches, generally providing less energy than self-administered food-based diets,” investigators form the University of Glasgow, Prince of Songkla University, Cambridge University and Otago University said in a statement.

Almost 80% of individuals with T2D had lost more than 22 pounds and maintained that weight loss in remission from diabetes for at least 2 years.

The results of the analysis showed that the greatest weight loss was achieved with very low-energy formula diets, used as Total Diet Replacement,” which led to an average of 14.55 pounds more in weight loss compared with food-based low-energy diets.

Formula meal replacements were also found to be superior to found to be better than food-based low-energy diets alone, achieving 5.4 pounds greater weight loss over 12 to 52 weeks.

The evidence also showed that low-carbohydrate diets were better than higher-carbohydrate diets for weight loss.

There were no direct comparisons between diet type, but published studies showed that the best remission rates of 46% to 61% at 12 months was with programs that included a formula Total Diet Replacement of 830 kcal per day for 12 weeks, followed by a relatively high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet and meal replacements for long-term maintenance.

With low-carbohydrate diets, reported remission rates were lower at 5% to 19%.

Investigators collected and systematically reviewed all the relevant world publications of diet trial meta-analysis for weight management for individuals with T2D and all studies that have reported remissions of T2D.

Investigators wanted to aid and inform clinical decision making and guideline development as part of a program of work to update the recommendations of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD).

Weight loss has been shown to improve cardiometabolic risk factors and reduce individuals’ with T2D need for medication.

The findings were published in Diabetologia, a journal of the EASD.


Analysis shows low energy diets with formula meal replacements are the most effective methods for weight management and remission in adults with type 2 diabetes. EurekAlert. News release. November 17, 2021. Accessed November 18, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/934913

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