Study Shows Obese Teens Can Safely Undergo Crash Diets

Study Shows Obese Teens Can Safely Undergo Crash Diets


A recent study conducted by researchers from Sydney University suggests that obese teenagers can safely undergo crash diets under the close supervision of a dietitian. Contrary to concerns about the potential negative effects of rapid weight loss, the study found that very low-energy diets (VLEDs) were well-tolerated by participants, despite experiencing side-effects like fatigue and headaches. The study involved 141 obese adolescents who were placed on four-week diets consisting of formulated meal replacements and low-carb vegetables. Although nearly all participants experienced side-effects, they lost an average of 5.5kg during the study period. The researchers emphasize the importance of including VLEDs in clinical practice guidelines for treating severe obesity in adolescents, before considering other interventions like medication or surgery.

The findings of this study, to be presented at the European Congress on Obesity, challenge previous concerns regarding the safety and effectiveness of crash diets for obese teens. Dr. Megan Gow, who led the research, highlights the significance of closely monitoring VLEDs by experienced dietitians to ensure safety and effectiveness.

The study participants, 71 men and 70 women with obesity and associated conditions like high blood pressure or insulin resistance, reported mixed experiences with the VLEDs. While many experienced side-effects such as hunger, fatigue, and headaches, they also expressed satisfaction with the weight loss achieved. This suggests that while VLEDs may come with discomfort, the potential benefits in terms of weight loss outweigh these drawbacks for many adolescents struggling with obesity.

One notable aspect of the study was the positive attitude of participants towards losing weight, despite the challenges of following a restrictive diet and consuming meal replacements. This indicates a willingness among obese teenagers to undergo drastic measures to address their weight issues, under the guidance of healthcare professionals.

The use of formulated meal replacements and low-carb vegetables in the VLEDs underscores the importance of providing essential nutrients while ensuring calorie restriction. This approach helps mitigate concerns about nutritional deficiencies that may arise from crash dieting.

The study's conclusion that VLEDs can be safely implemented in the short term for adolescents with moderate to severe obesity provides valuable insights for healthcare professionals working with this population. By incorporating VLEDs into treatment guidelines, clinicians can offer an additional tool for addressing obesity-related complications in teenagers.

It's essential to note, however, that while VLEDs may be effective for short-term weight loss, they are not a long-term solution on their own. Sustainable lifestyle changes, including diet modifications and increased physical activity, are necessary for maintaining weight loss and overall health in the long run.

Furthermore, the study's focus on adolescents with obesity and associated conditions highlights the need for tailored approaches to weight management in this population. Addressing underlying health issues, such as high blood pressure and insulin resistance, alongside weight loss efforts is crucial for improving overall health outcomes.

The findings of this study contribute to the growing body of evidence supporting the use of VLEDs as a treatment option for obese teenagers, under appropriate supervision. By dispelling fears over the safety of crash diets and highlighting their potential benefits, this research opens up new avenues for addressing the global epidemic of adolescent obesity.

In conclusion, the study conducted by researchers from Sydney University provides valuable insights into the safety and effectiveness of crash diets for obese teenagers. By closely monitoring VLEDs and providing adequate support, healthcare professionals can help adolescents achieve significant weight loss while mitigating potential side-effects. Incorporating VLEDs into clinical practice guidelines offers a promising approach to managing severe obesity and improving health outcomes in this vulnerable population.

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