There are always pros and cons to new gov initiatives, so here’s my ‘balanced’ view!
There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it’s definitely not all ‘bad’ – as a dietitian, I can tell you there are some positives.
Studies do show, and I’ve found in clinical practice too, that for a subset of people a temporary ‘reset’ with food can be a game-changer – re-establishing appetite cues, being more in tune with how they’re feeling and seeing some results after feeling disempowered about their health for so long.
The reality is, for a SUBSET of people suffering with type 2 diabetes, this scheme has the potential to help them make positive changes and take control of their illness, helping them get off medication and taking them off the path to more chronic disease.
Should we roll it out blindly to anyone with type 2 diabetes?
No. It absolutely needs to be individualised, determined on a case-by-case basis.
Do we need to tread carefully to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact any long-term relationships with food?
YES. We can’t let helping one condition cause another.
There should also be a big caution around the studies behind the liquid diet… A summary of the evidence shows liquid meal replacements can have a ‘modest’ reduction in body weight and only ‘marginal’ significance in body fat on a whole – so it’s by no means a magic fix for all! It really does come down to the individual.
In my ideal world, patients would be seeing a dietitian one-on-one and given a tailored food-based plan. But I realise the need to be pragmatic, and that’s just not practical with NHS budgets.
The gov also needs to focus on making healthier choices more accessible… to make it easier for everyone to boost their health with food.
I’d never suggest just focusing on weight when it comes to our health, and we should absolutely celebrate body confidence and acceptance. But it’s also super important not to shame or embarrass people for still wanting to manage their weight as part of their health goals! Sometimes, especially on this platform, it can be easy to forget that.