Are total diet replacements over? MEPs looking to block changes to law

© iStock / Rostislav_Sedlacek

Members of European Parliament will attempt to reverse last week’s vote decision on total diet replacements, which could see low calorie diet products wiped from the market.

Last week the ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) Committee voted on an objection to proposed laws that could decimate the diet foods industry, however the objection failed to gain a majority with 36 votes against and just 26 for (with one abstention).

The vote led to industry leaders warning against manufacturers and distributors of VLCD programmes and products being put out of business.

Julie Girling MEP has now won approval from her political group, the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), to relaunch the objection to the legislation in a Parliament session to be held this Wednesday (13 September).

Consumer demand

As a result of the new vote being announced, the European Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) Industry Group (a European trade body for manufacturers and distributors of TDR products and programmes) has released the results of its most recent survey to try persuade MEPs to take the information into account when making their decision.

TDRs, including VLCDs (containing less than 800 kcal) and LCDs (containing between 800 and 1200 kcal), are programmes based n formula foods which comprise of vitamins, minerals, essential fats, fibre, protein and other nutrients, to make up a balanced diet.

These formulas can be consumed in the forms of shakes, bars, soups, rehydrated meals and even desserts.

The survey assesses the popularity of TDRs in Europe as a safe and effective method of losing weight. It shows that 80% of dieters believe total diet replacements (TDRs) are the best way to lose weight ahead of a vote on legislation that could wipe them out.

After receiving 877 responses from participants aged between 18 and 74 years, the survey found that 37% of people using a TDR programme lost 20 or more kgs, and 19% lost between 10 and 15 kgs.

Furthermore, it revealed that the majority of people (69%) using TDR programmes had previously used other weight loss methods and achieved no results and 80% of participants believe that no other weight loss method would be as successful as TDR programmes.

The most common other dieting methods used by participants were paleo, low-carb, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), intermittent fasting, increased exercise and slimming pills, however 76% of the participants said they stopped these methods because they were not losing enough weight.

Despite these other dieting methods being available, 95% of the survey respondents said they would recommend the TDR programme to friends and family and 94% felt their health and/or quality of life had improved since using TDR programmes.

TDRs are “vital”

The VLCD Industry Group is urging MEPs to reject the proposed legislation ahead of their vote in plenary in the European Parliament of Wednesday.

Professor Anthony Leeds, Medical Director of the VLCD Industry Group has spoken out against the new legislation calling TDR products “vital”.

“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,” he said.

“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”.

If unopposed, the new legislation will set specific rules for TDRs, affecting how they are made, how they taste, their texture and how much they will cost.

Industry leaders have warned that this could mean the end of VLCD and LCD programmes, despite the programmes suggested beneficial impacts on some of Europe’s health challenges including obesity, diabetes, osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease.

Leeds has previously expressed irritation at the Commission’s demand that diet replacement regimes should contain a minimum of 75 grams (g) of protein, compared to 50 g, as well as the new demands on levels of essential fatty acids (11 g for linoleic acids and 1.4g for alpha linoleic) saying that these new rules will lead to a “sharp increase in production costs”.

Furthermore, Professor Leeds suggested that the new legislation could force consumers to turn to “dangerous, unregulated alternatives such as slimming pills or ‘fad diets’ in their desperation to lose weight”.

Related News


The death of diet foods? EU Parliament approve laws that could 'wipe out' very low calorie diet products

The European Commission has asked EFSA for help on how best to regulate such low-calorie diets across the EU. ©iStock/hannahgleg

EU low-cal diet industry "could fold" if rules rubber stamped, warns trade body

Tomorrow (21 May) marks to the sixth European Obesity Day. © / VladimirFLoyd

Meal replacements have key role to play in obesity battle – and need support from EU policy makers

Comments (3)

NutraIngredients - 13 Sep 2017 | 04:01

RE: A little late?

S. Jennings - Yes there was an objection vote last week which failed. Generally this means the law would go into force eventually. In this case the MEP has won backing to try for another objection vote in a session today (Weds 13th)

13-Sep-2017 at 16:01 GMT

S Jennings - 12 Sep 2017 | 06:01

A little late?

This action appears to be a little late, given the publication of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/1522 last week. Is the intention now to seek an amendment to the new law?

12-Sep-2017 at 18:01 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.