Slow return to normal food checks weight

London: The secret to keeping weight at bay is to switch back to normal food gradually, says a Swedish study.

The study also contains new research results for patients who have undergone obesity surgery.

For 12 weeks, a group of just over 260 patients swapped their normal food for a very-low-energy diet in the form of soups and milkshakes.

Of this, 169 patients lost a lot of weight, averaging 16 percent of their body weight. They were then divided into two groups so that they could switch back at different rates from the very-low-energy diet to energy reduced portions of normal food. One group completed the refeeding in a week, while the other took six weeks.

"After 10 months the patients with the six-week refeeding period had gained four percent in weight from their minimum weight while patients with the one-week refeeding period gained eight percent," says researcher Lena Gripeteg, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg .

Very-low-energy diets have been used for many years in the health service to achieve rapid and safe weight loss in obese patients. While this treatment method is well-studied, there is a risk that patients will gain weight when they start to eat normal food again.

"We therefore want to look at the importance of different treatment advice on the transition from the very-low-energy diet back to normal food, and assess what actually works," says Gripeteg.

"A simple tip that seems to work for patients is to revert slowly to normal food after losing weight on a very-low-energy diet," adds Gripeteg, according to a release of Sahlgrenska Academy.