Background: Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. It is implicated in the development of a variety of chronic disease states and is associated with increased levels of inflammation and oxidative stress. The objective of this study is to examine the effect of Medifast's meal replacement program (MD) on body weight, body composition, and biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress among obese individuals following a period of weight loss and weight maintenance compared to a an isocaloric, food-based diet (FB).
Methods: This 40-week randomized, controlled clinical trial included 90 obese adults with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 50 kg/m2, randomly assigned to one of two weight loss programs for 16 weeks and then followed for a 24-week period of weight maintenance. The dietary interventions consisted of Medifast's meal replacement program for weight loss and weight maintenance, or a self-selected, isocaloric, food-based meal plan.
Results: Weight loss at 16 weeks was significantly better in the Medifast group (MD) versus the food-based group (FB) (12.3% vs. 6.9%), and while significantly more weight was regained during weight maintenance on MD versus FB, overall greater weight loss was achieved on MD versus FB. Significantly more of the MD participants lost >or= 5% of their initial weight at week 16 (93% vs. 55%) and week 40 (62% vs. 30%). There was no difference in satiety observed between the two groups during the weight loss phase. Significant improvements in body composition were also observed in MD participants compared to FB at week 16 and week 40. At week 40, both groups experienced improvements in biochemical outcomes and other clinical indicators.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that the meal replacement diet plan evaluated was an effective strategy for producing robust initial weight loss and for achieving improvements in a number of health-related parameters during weight maintenance, including inflammation and oxidative stress, two key factors more recently shown to underlie our most common chronic diseases.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01011491.