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The new liquid diets - for Oprah, maybe, but probably not for you.

Unless you are at least 30 to 50 percent above your recommended weight, those ultra-low-calorie liquid diets, such as the highly publicized one used by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, are definitely not for you. Not to be confused with those currently being touted on TV that include at least one normal meal a day, these diets provide only 400 to 800 calories a day and must be used only under the careful supervision of a physician-one well-trained in nutrition and experienced in the use of these diets.

Typically, the liquid diet consists of packets of powder containing protein and other material. Such a diet is very different from a normal diet in that it permits no regular meals. It is available by prescription only, and its manufacturers advertise widely in medical journals. Judging from the number of physicians manufacturers claim have used their diets, and the number of patients thus treated, it is apparent the diets are being misused; it would be impossible for that many patients to have received adequate supervision and counseling, both of which are essential.

Several compelling reasons exist for close physician supervision. First, the diet may produce such short-term problems as nausea, dehydration and muscle cramps, as well as such serious long-term problems as severe-possibly fatal-cardiac arrhythmias. Used properly, the diets appear to be safe. More important, however, is the need for radical lifestyle changes and a good exercise program if the diet's benefits are to be maintained; that's why continuous monitoring by a qualified physician is essential. Otherwise, the lost pounds can be quickly regained.

A recent article in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that these diets have been studied only in the severely overweight. For those less overweight, the diet may in fact be hazardous, possibly because their metabolisms are different from those of the severely overweight.
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Title Annotation:Oprah Winfrey
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Feb 1, 1990
Words:307
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