Australian researchers followed 101 postmenopausal women with obesity in a 12-month weight-loss trial. Participants who underwent severe calorie restriction in a meal replacement diet lost more weight and fat than did their moderately restricted peers.

But they also lost approximately 1.5 times as much whole-body lean mass (proportional to total weight lost), and approximately 2.5 times as much total hip bone mineral density.

There was no difference between the two groups in whole-body lean mass or handgrip strength, the researchers added.

The trial should not discourage the use of total meal replacement diets as a treatment for obesity in postmenopausal women, wrote Radhika V. Seimon, Ph.D., University of Sydney, and colleagues.

But further investigation is needed to understand the potential long-term consequences on health outcomes such as osteoporotic fractures, they concluded.

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