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

By Emma Jane Cash

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock / Rostislav_Sedlacek
© 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 topics: Regulation & Policy

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3 comments

RE: A little late?

Posted by NutraIngredients,

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)

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A little late?

Posted by S Jennings,

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?

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EU and dieting

Posted by A Jacobs,

The European Parliament will be telling us when to breathe in and when to breathe out next. Good thing for Brexit - before they take our wages and hand us back spending money!

People lose weight in different ways so need different offerings to help us.

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