One of the major risk factors for type 2 diabetes is Obesity (accounts for 80-85% of overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes). The UK is currently amid an obesity epidemic and it is recommended that the UK population reduce their daily calorie intake. As people are surrounded by food, it was acknowledged that this can be challenging to achieve on a long-term basis. This pilot study aimed to identify common social cues that encourage people to increase their calorie consumption- and how this varies between different ethnic groups- and to see if short term calorie reduction can cause significant weight reduction.
A group of 12 participants who fitted the inclusion criteria (average daily calorie intake > 1500 kcal, no medical problems and aged between 18-30) were asked to reduce their average daily calorie intake by 20%. They were not allowed to exceed it for 7 days and had to record the challenges they faced during the task. They also measured their weights before and after the challenge.
The study does show that there is weight reduction with short term calorie reduction. Interestingly, the data shows a downward trend ie: the bigger the calorie reduction the smaller the weight reduction. The commonest social cues mentioned were: easily accessible treats (29%), home environment (21%) and university related work (21%). 85.7% of south Asian participants involved in this study exceeded their calorie allowance at least once during the challenge, whereas only 50% from non-south Asian community exceeded the allowance at least once, illustrating that certain communities were influenced more by the common social cues identified. The study does show that if carried out appropriately, short term calorie reduction can cause weight loss which eventually can reduce obesity amongst UK population.