Feasibility and indicative results from a 12-month low-energy liquid diet treatment and maintenance programme for severe obesity

Michael Lean, Naomi Brosnahan, Philip McLoone, Louise McCombie, Anna Bell Higgs, Hazel Ross, Mhairi Mackenzie, Eleanor Grieve, Nick Finer, John Reckless, David Haslam, Billy Sloan, David Morrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (SciVal)


There is no established primary care solution for the rapidly increasing numbers of severely obese people with body mass index (BMI) > 40 kg/m2.

This programme aimed to generate weight losses of ≥15 kg at 12 months, within routine primary care.

Design and setting:
Feasibility study in primary care.

Patients with a BMI ≥40 kg/m2 commenced a micronutrient-replete 810-833 kcal/day low-energy liquid diet (LELD), delivered in primary care, for a planned 12 weeks or 20 kg weight loss (whichever was the sooner), with structured food reintroduction and then weight-loss maintenance, with optional orlistat to 12 months.

Of 91 patients (74 females) entering the programme (baseline: weight 131 kg, BMI 48 kg/m2, age 46 years), 58/91(64%) completed the LELD stage, with a mean duration of 14.4 weeks (standard deviation [SD] = 6.0 weeks), and a mean weight loss of 16.9 kg (SD = 6.0 kg). Four patients commenced weight-loss maintenance omitting the food-reintroduction stage. Of the remaining 54, 37(68%) started and completed food reintroduction over a mean duration of 9.3 weeks (SD = 5.7 weeks), with a further mean weight loss of 2.1 kg (SD = 3.7 kg), before starting a long-term low-fat-diet weight-loss maintenance plan. A total of 44/91 (48%) received orlistat at some stage. At 12 months, weight was recorded for 68/91 (75%) patients, with a mean loss of 12.4 kg (SD = 11.4 kg). Of these, 30 (33% of all 91 patients starting the programme) had a documented maintained weight loss of ≥15 kg at 12 months, six (7%) had a 10-15 kg loss, and 11 (12%) had a 5-10 kg loss. The indicative cost of providing this entire programme for wider implementation would be £861 per patient entered, or £2611 per documented 15 kg loss achieved.

A care package within routine primary care for severe obesity, including LELD, food reintroduction, and weight-loss maintenance, was well accepted and achieved a 12-month-maintained weight loss of ≥15 kg for one-third of all patients entering the programme
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-124
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number607
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013


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