Successful dieters believe total diet replacements are best for weight loss, as crunch time approaches for legislation that could wipe out these programmes

80% of dieters believe that the best way to lose weight is through a total diet replacement (TDR) and that no other option is as successful, according to a survey of current and former TDR participants run by the European Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) Industry Group.

The survey demonstrates the popularity of TDRs amongst European consumers as a safe, effective way to lose weight ahead of a crucial vote on proposed legislation that risks removing TDRs from the market altogether. The legislation put forward by the European Commission sets specific rules changing how TDRs should be made, which preliminary trials carried out by the Group has found would make TDR products taste awful, have an unappealing texture, turn rancid quickly and be much more expensive for consumers.

The VLCD Industry Group is calling on MEPs to reject the proposed act ahead of a vote in plenary in the European Parliament on Wednesday 13th September, and for the European Commission to reconsider these proposed rules, in order to ensure the continued existence of TDRs, which the survey shows are by far the consumers’ favoured choice to lose weight. 76% of respondents had tried other interventions, including alternative diets such as paleo, low-carb, HCG and intermittent fasting, but stopped the diets because they didn’t lose enough weight, while 33% found the diets too difficult to follow. 69% of users joined a TDR programme specifically because they’d tried various other weight loss plans and nothing worked as well.

The survey also showed that consumers could rely on TDRs to help them keep weight off. 82% of respondents are currently maintaining all or part of their TDR weight loss, 84% feel such programmes are good value for money, and 94% feel their health and quality of life have improved since losing weight on the programme.  If the legislation is passed unchallenged, this will leave tens of thousands of obese and overweight people across Europe without one of the safest and most effective options available to lose weight, and is likely to be met with outrage from the weight loss consumer.

Professor Anthony Leeds, Medical Director of the VLCD Industry Group said:

“TDRs have proved time and time again to be effective, safe, convenient and easy to follow. They provide the public with what they need to lose weight and successfully maintain that weight loss. There is no clear rationale in depriving a significant section of the population, of this safe, tried and tested option to better their health and their lives.

It is crucial that this legislation is reconsidered and revised to ensure the continued existence of these vital products and we urge MEPs to take these issues into consideration when the time comes to vote on Wednesday.”

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Following the motion for resolution on total diet replacement products being rejected at the ENVI Committee in September 2017, with the objection being supported by 26 MEPs, rejected by 36 MEPs with one abstention, the VLCD Industry Group produced the below statement:

The debate can be viewed here.

Professor Anthony Leeds, Medical Director of the European Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) Industry Group said:

“The EU has misjudged this issue.  The very latest published scientific evidence shows that total diet replacement (VLCD and LCD) programmes deliver the amount of weight loss (10 to 20kg) needed to have a huge beneficial impact on Europe’s major health challenges: diabetes, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease.  An EU-funded trial in six EU member-states and two others* has shown that people at risk of diabetes can reduce weight by an average 10kg using total diet replacements and over one third are no-longer pre-diabetic. The health-care cost-savings of this are mind-boggling and should have convinced more committee members to vote for this rejection of legislation.  It is deeply disappointing that this European collaborative scientific/commercial project between the UK, Sweden and Denmark, where doctors proved that elderly obese could lose 10kg and keep it off for four years, suffering less pain throughout as a consequence, has been set back when all EU countries face pressure to limit the number of knee replacement operations.

“Today’s decision will also have catastrophic effects on ordinary consumers simply wanting to manage their weight loss, and carries a very real risk of forcing them to turn to dangerous, unregulated alternatives such as illegal slimming pills or ‘fad’ diets’ in their desperation to lose weight. It goes completely against the main objective of the Food for Specific Groups regulation to enhance consumer safety, and quite simply, is very likely to escalate the already shocking public health challenge of obesity in Europe.”

“What’s perhaps most frustrating is that these rules are disproportionate and largely unsubstantiated. TDRs have always been overseen by stringent EU food regulation that complies with international standards. They are carefully designed according to scientific research which ensures they consist of compositionally sound food products that provide 100% of recommended dietary allowances, including good quality protein and essential fats. The European Food Safety Authority itself has openly admitted that some of its recommendations are based on theory rather than hard scientific evidence. This legislation is not supported by evidence showing that current compositions are anything other than safe, nor is there hard scientific evidence to show that the new changes would make them safer for consumers.”

“We supported the need for legislation on composition but our repeated requests that the scientific evidence be reconsidered before legislation was made were rebuffed. Obesity and obesity-related conditions are challenging all European countries.  A majority of committee members failed in their public duty to insist that the highest standards of scientific evidence should inform the structure of legislation and their increasingly obese constituents will have good cause to reject them at the 2019 polls.”

*Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, The Netherland, Spain and the United Kingdom, plus Australia and New Zealand.

New legislation unnecessary and unsubstantiated, warns very low calorie diet industry group

The European Very Low Calorie Diet Industry Group (VLCD Industry Group) has relaunched its Code of Practice to highlight that consumer safety is a key priority for the industry in light of proposed new legislation that risks wiping out very low calorie diet products (VLCDs) from the market and making weight management products less safe for consumers.

The Code of Practice, which is used to help the industry comply with the body of law related to weight management programmes, is being publicly shared to highlight the steps that the industry has taken to ensure the safety of VLCDs. The Code outlines that VLCDs fall under European food legislation, such as general food safety requirements, and that they are compliant with international standards. It also states that members should be honest and truthful and provide factual information that does not give rise to false expectations, and outlines the steps taken in the rare event of an industry member violating the law, which includes escalating the issue to the relevant authority to ensure consumer wellbeing. The VLCD Industry Group hopes to emphasise the safety of these weight management programmes, particularly in comparison with current weight loss alternatives available on the market – such as risky illegal slimming pills sold on the internet or “fad” diets – that consumers are likely to turn to in the absence of VLCDs.

New legislation put forward by the Commission sets specific rules changing how VLCDs should be made, which the Group has identified would result in VLCDs being very difficult to manufacture, would make them taste unpleasant, have an unappealing texture, turn rancid quickly and be much more expensive for consumers. The new legislation is not supported by any evidence showing that current VLCD compositions are anything other than safe, nor is there scientific evidence to show that the proposed changes would make them safer for consumers.

The VLCD Industry Group is calling on MEPs to reject the proposed act ahead of an expected vote in plenary in the European Parliament in September, and for the European Commission to reconsider these proposed rules.

Professor Anthony Leeds, Medical Director of the VLCD Industry Group said:

““Very low calorie diets are safe and regulated weight loss programmes available to consumers and have been used successfully for more than 30 years. The industry has taken great care to ensure that only safe, effective products are sold to consumers – as the Code of Practice shows. Our efforts risk being undermined, however, by this legislation, which in its current form, makes little sense as it may fail to achieve its primary goal of protecting consumers: it risks leaving them with no choice but to turn to alternative less regulated options that pose a much higher risk to their health. It is also partly unsubstantiated, as the European Food Safety Authority itself has openly admitted that some of its recommendations are based on theory rather than hard scientific evidence.

It is crucial that this legislation is reconsidered and revised to ensure the continued existence of these vital products and we urge MEPs to take these issues into consideration when the time comes to vote in September.”

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Regulatory change could wipe out crucial weight loss programmes

New legislation currently being considered by the European Parliament could wipe out very low calorie diet products (VLCDs), which amongst a tide of rising obesity will leave tens of thousands of obese and overweight people across Europe without one of the safest and most effective options available to lose weight, warns the European Very Low Calorie Diet Industry Group (VLCD Industry Group).

VLCDs are safe, established, total dietary replacement products specifically formulated to help overweight and obese people lose weight successfully, and are a much more effective method of weight loss than cutting calories using any other conventional food combination. Without them, consumers will be left without a safe and controlled weight loss plan, being forced to turn to unregulated and very often dangerous alternatives, such as nutritionally imbalanced “fad” diets or unlicensed slimming pills.

The changes being considered by the Parliament – outlined in an act sent to it by the European Commission – set specific rules as to how VLCDs should be made. The VLCD Industry Group welcomes clear legislation in this field, but fears that the rules being proposed would make VLCDs almost impossible to manufacture and, where the products could be feasibly produced, they would taste unpleasant, have an unappealing texture, go off quite quickly and be much more expensive for consumers. The removal of such a vital weight loss tool would also undoubtedly lead to even greater levels of obesity rates across the EU.

The VLCD Industry Group is calling on MEPs to reject the proposed act ahead of a possible vote in plenary in the European Parliament this summer, and for the European Commission to reconsider these proposed rules.

Professor Anthony Leeds, Medical Director of the VLCD Industry Group said:

“Weight problems and obesity are of increasing concern as a public health challenge in Europe. The worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014, and according to the World Health Organisation, overweight affects up to 70% and obesity up to 30% of adults in European Union countries. VLCDs have historically been one of the most effective weight management programmes, helping to combat not just obesity but also the raft of conditions that come hand-in-hand, such as diabetes. This proposed new legislation is going to have catastrophic effects on ordinary consumers simply wanting to manage their weight loss.

“It is also disproportionate, unnecessary and unsubstantiated as slimming foods like this are stringently regulated by the EU and its Member States. They have been carefully designed according to scientific research which ensures they consist of compositionally sound food products that provide 100% of recommended dietary allowances, including good quality protein and essential fats. These products have been marketed safely in the EU for more than 30 years and are the most – if not the only – regulated diet available on the market.

“It is essential that these rules are looked at again and that a compromise is reached in order to ensure the continued existence of these vital products.”

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Loss of crucial weight loss programmes will put consumers at risk of dangerous alternatives

The loss of very low calorie diet products (VLCDs) will leave tens of thousands of obese and overweight people across Europe without one of the safest and most effective options available to lose weight, making them more likely to turn to less regulated and potentially dangerous alternatives such as fad diets and slimming pills, warns a new report by the European Very Low Calorie Diet Industry Group (VLCD Industry Group).

The report, Protecting Consumers and Delivering a Healthier, Happier Europe, which will launch at a European Parliament event on 3rd May, outlines a body of evidence demonstrating the need for the continued existence of VLCDs and the detrimental impact their loss would have on public health across the continent, using a sample of real-life examples of individuals whose lives have drastically improved while using the products. This is in light of newly proposed legislation that risks wiping out the weight loss programmes.

VLCDs are total dietary replacement products specifically formulated to help overweight and obese people lose weight successfully. Without them, consumers will be left without a safe and controlled weight loss plan, being forced to turn to unregulated and often dangerous alternatives, such as nutritionally imbalanced “fad” diets, including high-protein diets, and even unregulated and unlicensed slimming pills.

Unlike VLCDs, fad diets use combinations of conventional foods and as such do not fall under European legislation, presenting considerable risks to maintaining good health, particularly as they are not specially formulated to ensure the required levels of essential nutrients are provided. Alongside this, slimming pills that are not regulated by the European Medicines Agency and are not backed up clinical research may hold hidden dangers to consumers’ health, and can result in anything from high blood pressure, to liver damage, to death.

VLCDs are at risk of ceasing to exist if new legislation currently being considered by the European Parliament is implemented. The changes, which were outlined in an act sent to the Parliament by the European Commission, set specific rules as to how VLCDs should be made. The VLCD Industry Group has determined that the rules being proposed would make VLCDs very difficult to manufacture and they would taste unpleasant, have an unappealing texture, turn rancid quite quickly and be much more expensive for consumers.

The VLCD Industry Group is calling on MEPs to reject the proposed act ahead of a possible vote in plenary in the European Parliament this summer, and for the European Commission to reconsider these proposed rules.

Professor Anthony Leeds, Medical Director of the VLCD Industry Group said:

“Obesity is one of Europe’s biggest public health challenges. VLCDs and total diet replacement products are one of the most effective weight management programmes and have the potential to help combat not just obesity but also the raft of conditions that come with it, including diabetes. This proposed new legislation is going to limit the choice of ordinary consumers’ simply wanting to manage their weight loss

“In their desperation, there is a very real risk that these consumers will turn to “quick fixes” that have the potential to cause them serious harm. In 2015 alone, the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) seized more than 240,000 doses of pills claiming to be for weight loss, which turned out to contain previously banned medicines associated with increased risks of heart attacks and strokes. That’s just one example – there are many other dangerous alternatives available across the continent. VLCDs are a regulated option available on the market and have been used successfully for more than 30 years, as is evident in the report. What this proposed legislation is effectively doing is putting a, and very large, needy group of people at unnecessary risk as they seek substitute weight loss options that are less likely to work and may be detrimental to their health.”

Jeroen Bertelink, a former VLCD-user said:

“I lost 94kg on my VLCD programme and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I had considered all the other options before – the online diets, the weight loss pills, the surgery, but the risks associated with all of them were too big. You hear horror stories every day about people whose bodies suffer great damage because they trusted something on a dodgy website and I was too afraid to become just another news item. The VLCD changed my life, and rather than expose me to any health risks, it helped improve my health in many ways. I’m truly thankful for the existence of VLCDs and think it would be catastrophic if they were no longer available to help people who need them the most.”

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