Want to shed weight fast? Participants needed for 'severe diet' trial

27/02/2023 | 3 mins

A weight loss expert at The University of Western Australia has issued a call out for 288 people who are willing to ‘lose weight fast’ in the name of science.

Professor Amanda Salis, from UWA’s School of Human Sciences, said the medically supervised meal replacement diet had been shown in clinical research to induce fast weight loss.

“People may be surprised to hear that the best diet for loss of body weight and body fat are severe diets, which are achieved by replacing all regular meals and snacks with nutritionally replete meal replacement products such as shakes,” Professor Salis said.

“They can result in weight losses of approximately one to three kilograms per week, and 14 to 38 kilograms over six to 12 weeks.”

Professor Salis said research had shown that severe diets resulted in significantly greater losses of body weight and body fat than moderate diets, both in the shorter term and in the longer term.

“My clinical weight loss trial compared people who followed a 16-week severe diet with those who followed a moderate diet based on healthy foods,” she said. 

Fork on blue background with tape measure around it

“We showed that three years after the diets commenced, volunteers who had been asked to follow the severe diet had lost 1.5 to 1.7 times as much body weight, waist circumference, body fat and visceral adipose tissue compared to volunteers who had been asked to follow the moderate diet.”

Professor Salis said although severe diets were superior to moderate diets for loss of body weight and body fat in the shorter and longer term, regain still occurred. 

“While volunteers had lost an average of 17.4 kilograms after 16 weeks on the severe diet, by three years they’d regained an average of 9.4 kilograms or 54 per cent of the weight they had lost, so there is certainly room for improvement in severe diets,” she said.

To find better ways to help people to keep off weight and fat after a severe diet, Professor Salis is running a new clinical trial at UWA, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and approved by the University’s Human Research Ethics Committee.

The TANGO Diet Trial will compare two weight loss programs that involve a severe diet, both will run over a year and involve up to 16 weeks. The programs are expected to be equally effective for weight loss in the shorter term but it’s not yet known whether one of the two will be more effective in the longer term.

Volunteers must be aged 18 to 70 years, have a body mass index (BMI) of 27 kg/m2 or more (you can find out your BMI here) and live in the Perth metropolitan area. 

If you are interested in volunteering, please email [email protected] or go to this web page for more information.

Media references

Liz McGrath, UWA Media Advisor, 6488 7975

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