We describe the characteristics of adolescents seeking treatment for obesity via the ‘Eat Smart’ feasibility study; an intensive 12 week dietitian-led weight management programme with an emphasis on lifestyle change. It was designed to test the feasibility of a structured low-fat diet compared with a semi-structured reduced carbohydrate plan compared with a model of ‘standard care’– an unstructured low fat approach. When compared with non-participants, participants were predominantly female and lived in lower socioeconomic areas. When given the choice of dietary approach, 50% elected reduced dietary carbohydrate, 43% structured low fat and 7% chose ‘standard care’. Modest weight loss was achieved over 12 weeks, with both the structured low fat and reduced carbohydrate formats. Families showed a strong preference for structured eating plans, in particular seeking assistance with correct portion size. The current standard model of unstructured advice was both unpopular and relatively unsuccessful.