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Internationally recognised obesity programme in NZ

Media Release

Internationally recognised obesity management program now available in New Zealand pharmacies

The Optifast® Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) milkshake range is now available in New Zealand, providing obese patients and their healthcare providers with an important tool in their fight against an epidemic that afflicts over 840,000 New Zealanders.

Optifast® VLCD is a nutritionally complete food replacement that is clinically proven as a safe and effective method of rapid weight loss when used under medical supervision.

Optifast® VLCD is internationally recognised as the leading product of its type and has been used by over a million obese patients worldwide. It is now available in New Zealand pharmacies as Vanilla and Chocolate Flavoured Milkshakes.

Obesity and type II diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in New Zealand. Over 21% of all adults are obese with a further 35% classified as overweight,[i] and type II diabetes now affects around 110,000 people.[ii]

Dr Delahunt, an endocrinologist based at Wellington Hospital, believes that VLCDs are an effective non-pharmaceutical method of rapid weight loss, playing an important role in a successful weight management program for obese patients.

"For patients with severe weight problems and associated conditions such as type II diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidaemia, a weight-loss program using Optifast® VLCD is of particular benefit," he said.

"We have used Optifast® VLCD in about 25 patients with particular obesity related problems to date, and have seen effective and continuing weight loss particularly when use is coupled with an exercise and patient support program," he said.

Optifast® VLCD has been recognised in over 80 clinical studies as providing weight loss quickly, safely and effectively for obese patients. Patients have achieved an average 22% weight loss, 12% decrease in cholesterol and 10% decrease in blood pressure using Optifast® VLCD.[iii]

The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council summarised research that found weight loss of between 9 and 26 kilograms over the course of 4 to 20 week programs.[iv]

Patients using Optifast® VLCD can also join the OASIS(tm) Program, a network of over 11,000 people throughout Australia and New Zealand supported by a range of print and online resources at

Weight loss using Optifast® VLCD is achieved by restricting energy intake, and thereby shifting the body towards using fat/lipid stores as its major source of energy. The milkshakes replace meals three times per day, and are taken with two litres of water and two cups of low starch vegetables.

Hamilton-based pharmacist Alan Blyth has been recommending Optifast® VLCD to his customers for several months.

"We have several regular customers, and a couple of the staff here, who have weekly weigh-ins to check their progress on Optifast® VLCD. Within five weeks, the chart had hit 50 kilos lost for only eight of them," he said.

"With pharmacy growing rapidly as a weight loss destination, it is great to be able to offer customers the option of using a VLCD - especially those who wish to avoid the side effects of some of the pharmacotherapies."

Optifast® VLCD is available from select leading pharmacies.
Ask your health professional whether Optifast® VLCD is a suitable weight loss program for you.



[i] Minister of Health. Implementing the NZ Health Strategy 2003. Wellington: Ministry of Health; 2003.

[ii] Diabetes New Zealand website,

[iii] Drawert S. Changes in glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol with weight loss in medically obese patients. Obesity Research. 1996;4(S1):67S.

[iv] NHMRC. Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Commonwealth of Australia, 2003.

Factsheet: Obesity and Optifast® VLCD

About Optifast® VLCD

- Optifast® Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) is a nutritionally complete, total food replacement that is clinically proven as a safe and effective method of rapid weight loss when used under medical supervision.

- Patients most likely to benefit from VLCD-assisted weight loss as those with BMI > 30, or with BMI > 27 with co-morbidities such as type II diabetes, hypertension or hyperlipidaemia. ,

- Weight loss is achieved through the restriction of energy intake. Reducing intake to < 800kcal per day results in a shift towards fat/lipid stores being used as the main source of energy.

- Use of VLCD is associated with total weight loss of between 9 and 26 kilograms over a program lasting between 4 and 20 weeks, and patients have maintained weight loss at 5% to 10% of initial body weight.2

- Optifast® VLCD is designed to replace food three times a day along with low starch vegetables and at least 2 litres of energy-free liquids.

- Combining behavioral therapy and a program of regular light exercise enhances wellbeing, thereby increasing weight loss and limiting weight regain.

- VLCDs should be used under the proper supervision of a health professional. They are not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, adolescents or the elderly and certain people must be individually assessed and monitored.1

About obesity in New Zealand

- Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, including type II diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, gallstones, respiratory disorders and some cancers.

- Over 21% of adults in New Zealand are obese, with a further 35% classified as overweight, according to the 2002/3 New Zealand Health Survey. Amongst Maori, these figures reach 28% rates of obesity and 31% overweight.

- If current trends continue, 29% of New Zealanders will be obese in 2011.

- Approximately 1000 deaths in New Zealand are linked to obesity every year.

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