Medical FAQ

Our most frequently asked questions around specific health conditions are answered here.

Medical FAQ

Is it all right to continue Step 1 if giving blood?

Step 1 should not be followed for one week prior to blood donation and for one week after. During this time, it would be wise to move up to Step 4.

Can people with high blood pressure use Cambridge Weight Plan for weight loss?

Yes. If you have high blood pressure you may be able to follow any Step, depending on other health issues and your current BMI. Cambridge Weight Plan taken as a sole source of nutrition will itself cause water loss. The Plan is low in sodium and results in a natural water loss in the early stages. This, along with your weight loss, will invariably reduce blood pressure in some cases. Many people with high blood pressure have experienced blood pressure reductions after weight loss. Not only has there been a significant drop in blood pressure, but sometimes a decrease in medication has been required. This is why regular monitoring is required whist on the Plan. Hypertension medication and diuretics prescribed for hypertension will need to be monitored and adjusted throughout the weight loss period.

I have suffered from bulimia in the past. Can I do Cambridge Weight Plan?

Bulimia can occur as a result of various underlying factors such as stress, anxiety and depression. If a customer is suffering from this condition currently, they will not be able to commence on Cambridge Weight Plan. For customers with a history of bulimia, Consultants are asked to contact Cambridge Weight Plan’s medical team for further advice, who will look at each case individually. Some customers with a history of bulimia may then be able to start on one of our higher ‘with food’ steps/programmes.

Can a person who has raised cholesterol levels use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Yes. Studies have shown that using the Cambridge Weight Plan products as the sole source of nutrition may reduce levels of blood cholesterol by as much as 25% and blood fats (triglycerides) by 40% or more – the reduction seems to be greatest in those with initially high levels. When patients returned to a normal diet the levels may rise again but still stayed lower than baseline. There is also some evidence that following weight loss, ongoing use of the plan (higher steps) as part of a healthy diet, i.e. with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, cereals, lean meat, oily fish (e.g. salmon, herring, mackerel, etc.) and unsaturated fats may help control cholesterol levels. Please note that if you take medication for your cholesterol you will need to be monitored by your doctor, and as you lose weight this medication may need to be adjusted.

Is Cambridge Weight Plan suitable for people with coeliac disease?

We have a small range of gluten-free products suitable for individuals with coeliac disease. View the Allergies, Intolerances page or contact your Cambridge Consultant for further information.

I am following Step 1 but have a cough and a cold. What can I take?

The diet contains all the nutrients required for normal health but when you are fighting an infection you may do this more effectively on a higher calorie intake. While you recover you should raise your calorie intake to a higher level. Remember that sugar free cough and cold remedies are available.

I am being treated for depression; can I use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Most customers would be able to follow Cambridge Weight Plan if they are suffering from depression. It may be that a higher Step would be more suitable for you but your Consultant would be able to advise you on this.

Can someone with diabetes use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Customers who have Type 1 and 2 diabetes can follow Cambridge Weight Plan with the support of their doctor. We would want you to have a slightly slower reduction in calories to ensure that blood glucose levels remain as stable as possible. Your Consultant will be able to advise on a suitable Step for you to follow. Recent publication from the DiRECT study shows that 86% who lost 15kg or more (using Cambridge Weight Plan) went into Diabetes remission, most participants kept this weight off after one year. See journal article under Resources. Lean, M. E., Leslie, W. S., Barnes, A. C., Brosnahan, N., Thom, G., McCombie, L., ... & Rodrigues, A. M. (2017). Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial. The Lancet.

I have diabetes and my condition is controlled by diet. Must I see a doctor before starting Cambridge Weight Plan?

You can start any Cambridge Weight Plan Step. It is recommended to let your GP know advising them that you have chosen to lose weight with Cambridge Weight Plan. You may be required to have regular appointments with your GP for monitoring. Weight management on the remission of Diabetes - see Resources. Lean, M. E., Leslie, W. S., Barnes, A. C., Brosnahan, N., Thom, G., McCombie, L., ... & Rodrigues, A. M. (2017). Primary care-led weight management for remission of type 2 diabetes (DiRECT): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial. The Lancet.

I suffer from epilepsy and take anti-convulsing medication. Would I be able to use Cambridge Weight Plan?

It may be possible for you to follow Cambridge Weight Plan if you have been stable with no seizures or medication adjustments for at least six months. Your Consultant would be able to advise on a suitable Step for you to follow.

I suffer from gout. Can I still use Cambridge Weight Plan products?

Gout sufferers generally have raised blood levels of uric acid (hyperuricaemia), which can cause crystals of sodium urate to be deposited in the joints – an extremely painful condition. Using Cambridge Weight Plan as a sole source of nutrition may also raise uric acid levels. Anyone with a history of gout should be warned of this possibility. You will be able to discuss this with your Cambridge Consultant who will be able to advise you further.

I have had a heart attack or stroke; can I follow Cambridge Weight Plan?

If you have had a heart attack or stroke within the past three months, you will not be able to use a Cambridge Weight Plan. Following this period, depending on your recovery, you may be able to follow a Cambridge Weight Plan Step. Your Consultant will be able to advise you further.

I have a problem with heartburn; will Cambridge Weight Plan aggravate this?

If you take medication for heartburn or gastric acid reflux and want to do Step 1, it may be helpful to take your Cambridge Weight Plan products in six or eight half portions per day instead of the three or four full ones. However, you would be able to follow any Step. It may be helpful to discuss with your GP that an increase in medication for these conditions may be advisable when following a weight loss plan.

Can someone with lactose intolerance use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Yes, Cambridge Weight Plan has lactose free options. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) and is caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme released by the small intestine that allows milk sugar to be absorbed into the bloodstream. We have a range of lactose-free products available for anyone that is lactose intolerant. Please see the Allergies, Intolerances and Choices Page for further information.

What is metabolic rate and can it be damaged by rapid weight loss?

Weight and amount of lean (muscle) tissue within the body are the major determinants of metabolic rate. The human body evolved to be super-efficient in conserving energy. When dietary energy intake goes down, the body adapts by reducing heat and energy loss and therefore the metabolic rate drops. After weight loss and the establishment of a new lower energy requirement, the body’s metabolic rate should return to a level appropriate for the new body weight and lean tissue.

What is meant by the term obesity?

Obesity is now much better understood than 20 years ago. At that time fat tissue (adipose) was believed to be simply a store of energy and an insulation layer. Now we know that adipose tissue is a very complex organ which produces signals (hormones) that can influence health and disease in parts of the body. Most importantly, we now know that some of those signalling chemicals increase inflammation in other tissues, especially in blood vessels. It is also known that adipose tissue can have a direct effect on organs located right next to the fat. So, for example, fat around the heart may directly affect the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the coronary arteries. Genetic factors interact with environmental factors (diet, exercise, other aspects of lifestyle such as stress and sleep) to cause either slimness, or obesity, and obesity-induced problems such as diabetes. Thus not all overweight and obese people develop diabetes as early in life as might be expected. Nevertheless, New Zealand is rated 3rd most obese (behind US and Mexico) in the OECD countries. Obesity is linked to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep problems, increased risk of some cancers, heightened risk of accidents and increased risks of problems around the time of surgery. Strategies are in place to try to prevent the further development of obesity among the population as a whole and methods for helping people who are already overweight and obese are being developed by scientists across the world. Formula-food based very low-calorie and low-calorie diets are one of the several options clients and patients can choose to lose weight and try to maintain weight afterwards. Cambridge Weight Plan is at the forefront of research and development in obesity management and prevention, commissioning research from centres of excellence in several countries (see Awards).

How will Cambridge Weight Plan benefit my osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease affecting the weight-bearing joints. Weight loss is regarded as a very important component in the treatment of osteoarthritis. A lighter body puts less strain on the joints and some patients find they may need less of their anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate the symptoms. Danish researchers from the Parker Institute at Frederiksberg Hospital in Copenhagen reported in June 2010 at the European Rheumatology meeting in Rome, that a Cambridge Weight Plan formula diet weight loss programme was a very effective symptom-reducing treatment in overweight patients with knee osteoarthritis. In the research group this weight loss and symptom improvement has been maintained for one year. See Resources

Is Cambridge Weight Plan suitable for anyone with a peanut allergy?

The ready made shakes is definitely suitable as it is made in a nut free environment. The Cambridge Weight Plan Peanut Crunch bar does contain peanuts. All the other products in the Cambridge Weight Plan range are not made in a nut-free environment and therefore may contain nuts due to the possibility of cross contamination. The only exceptions to this are the Cambridge Weight Plan ready-made shakes. Please see the Allergies, Intolerances Pages for further information.

Why are pregnant or breastfeeding women advised not to use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Any woman who is pregnant, breastfeeding or who has given birth in the last three months cannot use Cambridge Weight Plan. Pregnant and lactating women require increased levels of protein and energy, and are advised to follow a diet rich in lean protein, whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables. In pregnancy, care has to be taken not to exceed intakes of some micro-nutrients, current guidelines advise against taking extra vitamin A, which is present in all of our products.

Can I safely use Cambridge Weight Plan with a thyroid-complaint?

Cambridge Weight Plan is suitable for anyone with thyroid function complaints. Speak to your Consultant who will be able to advise you further.

I take warfarin to thin my blood as I have deep vein thrombosis. Can I still use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Yes, you would be able to follow Cambridge Weight Plan. However, you need have your warfarin dose monitored regularly throughout weight loss to ensure your thyroid function remains stable. Your Consultant would be able to advise you further.

My medical condition isn’t mentioned above, how do I find out if can use Cambridge Weight Plan?

Contact us through the contact form or your nearest Consultant to discuss your individual circumstances. They will refer to our Cambridge Medical Advisory form and may contact the Medical Advisory team for further information.

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