Navigating Very Low Calorie Diets: A Safe Solution for Teen Obesity

  • By Ravi Shankar Upadhyay
  • at March 18, 2024 -


Addressing the growing concern of obesity among teenagers requires innovative approaches. Recent research presented at the European Congress on Obesity sheds light on the safety and efficacy of very low calorie diets (VLCDs) for adolescents struggling with moderate to severe obesity. The study underscores the importance of closely monitored VLCDs by dietitians in managing weight-related complications among teens.

The Rise of Very Low Calorie Diets for Teens:

Teen obesity has become a pressing health issue globally, with conventional diet and exercise programs often proving insufficient for many adolescents. Very low energy diets (VLEDs), with ≤ 800 calories per day, coupled with meal replacements, offer a promising alternative. These diets provide essential nutrients while facilitating rapid weight loss, making them particularly valuable for teens resistant to traditional interventions.

Insights from Research:

Dr. Megan Gow and her team conducted a comprehensive study, "Fast Track to Health," focusing on the acceptability and safety of VLEDs among adolescents with obesity. The research, encompassing a 52-week period, unveiled crucial findings regarding the viability of VLCDs for teens.

Key Findings:

Data analysis from the initial four weeks of the study revealed compelling insights. Among the 141 participants aged 13–17 years, significant weight loss averaging 5.5kg (12lb) was observed. Despite common side effects such as hunger, fatigue, and headache, the vast majority of participants completed the VLED, highlighting its acceptability among teens.

Navigating Side Effects:

Side effects, though prevalent, were manageable and often diminished over time. The study highlighted a correlation between experiencing side effects and greater weight loss, suggesting improved adherence to the VLED. Notably, the support of a dietitian proved instrumental in mitigating adverse effects and ensuring the safety of participants throughout the process.

Adolescent Perspectives:

The adolescents' feedback provided valuable insights into their experiences with VLEDs. While aspects such as weight loss and the structured nature of the intervention were well-received, concerns regarding the restrictive nature and taste of meal replacements surfaced. Nonetheless, the majority found the intervention acceptable, emphasizing its potential as a viable treatment option.

Implications for Clinical Practice:

Dr. Gow underscores the need for further research to identify ideal candidates for VLEDs. Nevertheless, the study advocates for integrating VLEDs into clinical practice guidelines for treating severe adolescent obesity and related complications. Empowering teens with access to supervised VLEDs through healthcare providers can revolutionize obesity management strategies.


As the prevalence of teen obesity continues to escalate, innovative solutions are imperative. The research presented underscores the safety and acceptability of very low calorie diets when monitored by experienced professionals. By leveraging the insights gleaned from this study, healthcare providers can navigate the complexities of teen obesity more effectively, offering hope and tangible solutions to adolescents battling weight-related challenges.



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The Author is, a seasoned wellness author, delves into the art of healthy living through his insightful narratives on herbs, lifestyle choices, and yoga asanas. With a passion for holistic well-being, Author's writings inspire readers to embrace a balanced life, fostering happiness and vitality through the integration of natural remedies and mindful practices.


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