Attitudes and approaches to use of meal replacement products among healthcare professionals in management of excess weight

Gabrielle Maston, Janet Franklin, Alice A. Gibson, Elisa Manson, Samantha Hocking, Amanda Sainsbury, Tania P. Markovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Meal replacement product-based diets are an e_ective weight loss intervention used in the management of obesity. Historically, these diets have been underutilised by HealthCare Professionals (HCPs). An online survey of mixed methods design was distributed to HCPs to capture current perceptions and prescribing patterns of meal replacement products (MRPs) in the management of overweight and obesity. A total of 303 HCPs working in weight management across Australia began the survey and 197 (65%) completed it. While over 70% of HCPs have prescribed MRP currently or in the past, MRPs are only prescribed to a median 7% of patients seeking weight management treatment. Qualitative analysis identified potential barriers to MRP prescription, which include experience with patient non-compliance, perceived poor long-term weight loss durability and safety concerns regarding the product and its use as a total meal replacement program. Safety concerns are centred on the perceived risk of weight cycling and its potential negative psychological impact. MRP prescription is 66% more likely to occur if HCPs had formal training in the use of MRPs relative to those who did not, with a relative risk (RR) of 1.7 (95% CI 1.4, 2.0). This study highlights the potential barriers to the prescription of MRPs, which are centred around safety concerns. This also indicates that formal training may enhance the likelihood of prescribing MRPs, suggesting that once HCPs have a comprehensive understanding of the products and the evidence behind their use, their prescription is likely to be increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbs10090136
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


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