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Nutrición Hospitalaria

versión On-line ISSN 1699-5198versión impresa ISSN 0212-1611


CABANILLAS, M. et al. Usefulness of meal replacement: analysis of the principal meal replacement products commercialised in Spain. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2009, vol.24, n.5, pp.535-542. ISSN 1699-5198.

Introduction: Obesity has become a serious health problem. It is nowadays considered a pandemia and it is therefore a priority to develop different strategies on its prevention and treatment: lifestyle changes, community interventions as well as pharmacological and non-pharmacological activities. In this way, meal replacement products (energy reduced products designed to replace one or two regular meals providing a supously nutritionally balanced low fat meal) can be an alternative to traditional reduced calorie diet. Objective: Our aim was to revise the literature on meal replacement and compare the nutritional composition and the different forms of presentation of the main meal replacement products commercialised in Spain. Methodology: We made a research in pharmacies, weight loss centers and big supermarkets of food products specially designed to replace a meal. We compared the nutritional composition regarding macronutrients and micronutrients of the thirty-two different products founded, including their different form of presentation (bars, powder, drink-shakes and crackers). In order to judge their nutritional composition, we compared one meal replaced with these products with the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA). Results: The most common form of meal replacement products were bars (23 of 32 analyzed products), followed by powder for making shakes (6 products), bricks (2 products) and crackers (1 product). When we analysed a single meal replaced with these products, we founded that the global distribution of macronutrients was: 45% as carbohydrates, 29% as fats, 26% as proteins, and 4.45 grams of fiber. Their average energy was 266 Kcal per meal. Regarding micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), there was a great variability among the different products, but in average their composition was above the 33% of the RDA per meal specially in iron and vitamins B1, B6 and D. Calcium, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin B12 were the micronutrients less plentiful. Conclusion: Partial meal replacement can be an alternative or a complementary therapeutic option to conventional hipocaloric diets in obesity since they appear to have an easier understanding and follow up. It is therefore important to consider them in weight management programs and more studies are required to establish strict criteria on their nutritional composition by a legal normative.

Palabras clave : Meal replacement; Obesity; Weight loss; Diet.

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