The Food Education Society

Founded the Ninth day of May. 1919


Current Goals and Philosophy: In recognition of the obesity pandemic in western societies;  of energy over-consumption, overweight and obesity and the health and societal consequences of excess weight, The Food Education Society is committed to furthering the medical recognition of the overweight problem in all its aspects.

Recent activities of the society have focused on  the sponsorship of Post Graduate Medical Education programmes throughout the UK to increase GP awareness of obesity, concern for the medical consequences of overweight in patients and  treatment options for the most severe cases.

Obesity Prevention activities include the production and dissemination of educational materials in audio and print form, particularly aimed at the promotion of a low-fat healthy eating lifestyle.

Original Research into the physiology of body weight change, body composition  and metabolic studies under conditions of very low energy intake.

Current Project: Extension of the role of other medical professionals, such as nurses and pharmacists in dealing with weight management in the community.


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The problem of overweight and obesity in the UK:

    a. Report of the National Audit Office

        a1. Press release with links to the Executive Summary  and the full report

        a2. Minutes of Parliamentary discussions 

        a3. Response of the Infant & Dietetic Food Association (IDFA) - the UK Slimming foods trade association.

House of Commons - Public Accounts - Minutes of Evidence   

House of Commons - Health - Second Report


Treatment of Obesity

Very Low Calorie Diets VLCD:

Why do we need VLCD?

There is only one way to lose weight.  If we eat  fewer Calories than we use,  we make up the difference from our stored energy.  Thus we lose weight.  We can lose weight even if we only eat 1 calorie a day less than we use.  Very Slowly.  Since it takes 3500 Calories deficit to use up 1 pound of fat tissue, using them up at 1 Calorie per day would take 3500 days (~ten years).  At 2 Calories per day it will only take 5 years, at 10 Calories a day only 1 year.  As you can see, the larger the Calorie deficit (known as the Calorie Gap) the more realistic the time needed to lose weight becomes.  

Why not maximize the "Calorie Gap" ie. starve? 

The biggest difference between the energy you use and the energy you eat  will occur when you eat nothing at all.  A total fast provides the maximum Calorie gap and therefore the fastest rate of weight loss.  The reason a total fast should not be used for weight loss is that we absolutely require about 50 substances from our food in addition to energy.  We call these substances nutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, essential amino and fatty acids).  A fat person has a vast reserve of energy (37000 kcal per stone of excess weight) but only minimal reserves of essential nutrients.  In a total fast these essential nutrients are not replenished and the person becomes ill.  The only way to provide the essential nutrients is to add them.  Since essential nutrients are not calorie free, the minimum Calories that will keep a person healthy are those in a formula food that contains only the essential nutrients.  Such a formula is called a very low calorie diet. (VLCD)  A VLCD provides for the maximum Calorie Gap consistent with health and therefore the fastest safe weight loss.

VLCDs  and the European Union

The use of VLCDs in Europe varied from country to country.  If a product is to be sold freely throughout Europe, there has to be agreement from all the member states.  All slimming products were studied and a directive issued  relating to the scientific status, consumer labeling, conditions of use, composition, claims and so on, but the resulting directive provided for diets above 800 kcal per day.  Diets below 800 Calories  - VLCD - are now in the process of obtaining the same common agreement as the previous directive.  

The process occurs in two parts.  First there is a committee formed with representatives  from all the interested countries, whether or not they have any prior experience with these products.  This Scientific COOPeration committee (Called SCOOP) has the responsibility of studying the literature and providing as much information as possible about the scope of existing products that a common agreement can be formulated into a directive.  Part two is the writing of legislation - the directive.

The SCOOP Report on Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) has been published and the complete report can be downloaded in pdf format from the link on the VLCD page of this website.  This Food Education Society website is also referred to  in the report as the web location for access to the science and safety subcommittee report by Marks and Schrijver.  The links to this  document, with a preamble by the report's authors is provided here.