Very-Low-Energy Diets Beneficial for Long-Term Weight Loss

(HealthDay News) — Very-low-energy diets seem to be beneficial for long-term weight loss, according to a review published in Obesity Reviews.

Noting that guidelines suggest that very-low-energy diets should be used to treat obesity only when rapid weight loss is clinically indicated, Helen M. Parretti, MD, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues reviewed the literature to examine weight change associated with use of very-low-energy-diets. 

Data were included from randomized trials where the intervention included a very-low-energy-diet and the comparator was no intervention or an intervention that could be given in a general medical setting with overweight adults.

The researchers found that very-low-energy diets combined with a behavioral program achieved –3.9 kg at 1 year compared with a behavioral program alone. At 24 months and 38 to 60 months, the differences were –1.4 kg and −1.3 kg, respectively. 

Premature discontinuation of treatment occurred in 19% and 20% of the very-low-energy diet and comparator groups, respectively (relative risk=0.96; 95% CI, 0.56-1.66). There was 1 serious adverse event in the very-low-energy diet group (hospitalization with cholecystitis) and none in the comparator group.

“Very-low-energy diets with behavioral programs achieve greater long-term weight loss than behavioral programs alone, appear tolerable, and lead to few adverse events, suggesting they could be more widely used than current guidelines suggest,” the researchers wrote.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the weight loss industry.


  1. Parretti HM, Jebb SA, Johns DJ, Lewis AL, Christian-Brown AM, Aveyard P. Clinical effectiveness of very-low-energy diets in the management of weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Obes Rev. 2016;doi:10.1111/obr.12366.