Background Effective approaches are needed to address the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity. The present study investigated whether all meal provision was a more effective and acceptable method for weight loss than a self‐directed diet. Methods This randomised controlled trial recruited 112 men and women with a body mass index in the range 27–35 kg m–2, who had no comorbidities, from the local area of Hull. Participants were randomised to receive either meal provision or follow a self‐directed diet for a 12‐week period that resulted in an estimated 2928 kJ day−1 (700 kcal day−1) deficit. A dietitian supervised both dietary interventions. Results At 12 weeks [mean (SEM)], percentage weight loss in the meal provision group was 6.6% (0.5%) compared to 4.3% (0.6%) for those on the self‐directed diet. In terms of clinically relevant weight loss, 61% of participants lost 5% or more of their body weight with meal provision compared to 22% on the self‐directed diet (P < 0.001). Weight loss was associated with wellbeing in both groups. Attrition was less apparent with 7% of those participants receiving meal provision withdrawing from the study compared to 41% of those following the self‐directed diet (P < 0.001). Conclusions Meal provision was a more effective and accepted method for weight loss over a 12‐week period compared to a self‐directed diet. This may in part represent the difference between being given the meal provision food free of charge. However, longer‐term maintenance studies need to be undertaken to ascertain their effects on the maintenance of weight loss.
Bibliographical note© 2013 The Authors. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Dietetic Association Ltd.
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