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Objective

To investigate the efficacy of water preloading before meals as a weight loss strategy for adults with obesity.

Methods

A two-group randomized controlled trial was conducted in Birmingham, England. Eighty-four adults with obesity were recruited from general practices. All participants were given a face-to-face weight management consultation at baseline (30 min) and a follow-up telephone consultation at 2 weeks (10 min). At baseline, participants were randomized to either drinking 500 ml of water 30 min before their main meals or an attention control group where participants were asked to imagine their stomach was full before meals. The primary outcome was weight change at 12-week follow-up. Several measures of adherence were also used, including 24 h total urine collections.

Results

41 participants were randomized to the intervention group and 43 to the comparator group. The water preloading group lost −1.3 kg (95% CI −2.4 to −0.1, P = 0.028) more than comparators at follow up. Adjusting for ethnicity, deprivation, age, and gender resulted in the intervention group losing −1.2 kg (95% CI −2.4 to 0.07, P = 0.063) more than the comparator.

Conclusions

There is preliminary evidence that water preloading before main meals leads to a moderate weight loss at follow up. ISRCTN33238158