Background: Low-income patients are disproportionately affected by obesity. Routine care is available to this population at the Venice Family Clinic (VFC) in Los Angeles. The current study examined the effectiveness of nutrition clinic utilizing meal replacements (Slim-Fast, Slim-Fast Foods Co., FL, USA) in low-income patients over a 6-month period compared with the routine care by their primary care physician (PMD) prior to enrolling in the nutrition clinic at similar time intervals.
Methods: In total, 63 patients (51 F; 49+/-0.8 yo) who had been followed at the VFC by their PMD for at least 6 months were enrolled in this study. Patients had a body mass index (BMI) of 40+/-1.1 kg/m2, were 72% Hispanic, 25% Caucasian, and 3% African American. They had the following co-morbidities: hypertension (HTN) 45%, diabetes mellitus II (DM II) 50%, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) 34%, osteoarthritis 51%, and hypercholesterolemia 48%. All patients were provided with meal replacements to be taken twice a day and were instructed to consume one complete low calorie meal per day. Weights at the first visit to the nutrition clinic, 1, 3, and 6 months after enrollment in nutrition clinic were compared to their weights at the same time intervals during routine visits to their PMD prior to enrollment in the nutrition clinic.
Results: There was no significant weight change during the 6 months prior to enrollment in the nutrition program despite receiving care by a PMD. At 6 months after participating in the nutrition program, there was a mean decrease of 7% body weight with a reduction in BMI from 40-37 kg/m2 (P< or =0.05).
Conclusion: Implementation of nutrition clinic utilizing meal replacements in this low-income patient population was effective in achieving a significant reduction in weight over 6 months of treatment..