Providing Food as part of a weight loss program Has Little Benefit
Providing weekly food delivery as part of a weight loss program has little impact on outcomes, based on the results of a one-year study conducted in Toronto, Canada.
Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this study tested four weight loss interventions in 919 overweight Canadian adults. Roughly half of participants were assigned to one of three dietary interventions, which included dietary advice, weekly food delivery, or food delivery plus dietary advice. The other half were part of the control group and received only a dietary brochure at the start of the study.
All of the interventions promoted current dietary guidelines and the DASH diet, which limits salt intake and helps lower blood pressure. While weight loss interventions lasted six months, participants were followed for one year to track outcomes like weight, waist circumference and blood pressure.
The goal of the study was to see whether dietary advice and/or weekly food delivery helps boost weight loss and reduce cardiovascular risk in overweight adults.
The good news is that all participants saw small reductions in weight, waist circumference and blood pressure at six months. A year after the interventions, participants also had lower ten-year risk for developing heart disease, as measured by the Framingham risk score. However, there were no significant differences in outcomes between groups, which means monthly phone calls and weekly food delivery had no impact on weight loss or changes in cardiovascular risk.
Authors did note, however, a difference in drop-out rates between groups. Participants receiving food delivery were much more likely to stay in the study, with only 9% of participants dropping out of the study by six months, compared to 33% of participants with no food delivery. Participants receiving weekly food baskets plus advice also had consistent increases in consumption of recommended foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Based on findings, authors conclude that providing food as part of a dietary intervention has little added benefit on weight loss or cardiovascular risk reduction. However, findings also confirm the overall benefits of the DASH diet and general dietary guidelines. As other studies have shown, maintaining a healthy diet promotes a healthy weight, reduces risk for heart disease and improves overall health. Authors hope that with future research, we can improve available resources to help adults achieve both a healthy weight and diet.