Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research

Commercial weight loss diets meet nutrient requirements in free living adults over 8 weeks: A randomised controlled weight loss trial

Helen Truby1*, Rebecca Hiscutt2, Anne M Herriot2, Manana Stanley2, Anne deLooy3, Kenneth R Fox4, Susan Baic4, Paula J Robson5, Ian Macdonald6, Moira A Taylor6, Robert Ware7, Catherine Logan5 and MBE Livingstone5

Author affiliations

1 Children's Nutrition Research Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Herston, Qld, Australia, 4029

2 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, GU2 7XH, UK

3 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Plymouth, Plymouth, PL6 9BH, UK

4 Department of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TP, UK

5 Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health, University of Ulster, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland

6 School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, UK

7 School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston, Australia, 4029

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2008, 7:25  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-25

Published: 2 September 2008



To investigate the effect of commercial weight loss programmes on macronutrient composition and micronutrient adequacy over a 2 month period.


Adults were randomly allocated to follow the Slim Fast Plan, Weight Watchers Pure Points Programme, Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution, or Rosemary Conley's "Eat Yourself Slim" Diet & Fitness Plan.


A multi-centre randomised controlled trial.


293 adults, mean age 40.3 years and a mean BMI 31.7 (range 27–38) were allocated to follow one of the four diets or control group. Subjects completed a 7-day food and activity diary at baseline (prior to randomisation) and after 2 months. Diet records were analysed for nutrient composition using WinDiets (research version).


A significant shift in the macronutrient composition of the diet with concurrent alteration of the micronutrient profile was apparent with all diets. There was no evidence to suggest micronutrient deficiency in subjects on any of the dietary regimens. However, those sub-groups with higher needs for specific micronutrients, such as folate, iron or calcium may benefit from tailored dietary advice.


The diets tested all resulted in considerable macronutrient change and resulted in an energy deficit indicating dietary compliance. Health professionals and those working in community and public health should be reassured of the nutritional adequacy of the diets tested.

Trial Registration Number