England expands TDR programme to tackle obesity. European countries need to follow suit

Posted On: 20th June 2023

The English National Health Service (NHS) has announced that it will further expand its “soups and shakes” diet programme, which provides weight loss with total diet replacement (TDR) for people with obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2DM), following positive results. Currently available in 21 areas of England, the programme will be expanded to provide access to patients in every part of the country by March 2024. According to the latest data, over 2,000 people have improved their health through the programme with participants losing an average of 13kg in three months, which was maintained at six months.

This announcement also follows new scientific evidence further demonstrating the effectiveness of TDR in helping people with obesity improve their T2DM. The findings from a three-year extension of the DiRECT study showed that nearly a quarter (23%) of participants who were in remission from T2DM at two years in the original trial remained in remission at five years. The original DiRECT study ran for two years and saw almost half of those (46%) who went on a low-calorie diet with TDR achieve remission of their T2DM after one year and 36% at two years.  A quarter of participants achieved a 15kg or more weight loss, and of these, 86% put their T2DM into remission.

To provide a better understanding of the longer-term benefits of the programme, DiRECT was extended for a further three years. In the extension study, 95 participants from the original DiRECT intervention group continued to receive support and advice from their GP surgery to help them maintain weight loss and those who regained more that 2kg during the three years continued the TDR diet.  Data available from 85 participants of the original  intervention group revealed an average 5-year weight loss of 6.1kg. Furthermore, 48 people from the intervention group were in remission at the start of the three-year extension study, while 11 of these (23%) were still in remission at five years, and their average weight loss was 8.9kg.

Featured in The Times, TDMR Europe Chair, Professor Anthony Leeds emphasised that the DiRECT study and the NHS TDR programme show that T2DM remission can be listed as a potential beneficial effect of weight loss with TDR alongside reduced blood pressure, reduced cardiovascular risk, reduced pain in osteoarthritis and reduced inflammatory markers.

With obesity and related comorbidities being among Europe’s main public health challenges, policy makers across the continent need to take note of the NHS programme success and consider TDRs as a powerful tool to tackle these challenges.

TDMR Europe raises awareness of the beneficial impact of members’ products not only via the effective communication channels that it has established with policy makers in the EU and the UK over the years, but also with the delivery of insightful educational events. Find out more here.