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Cambridge Weight Plan: A Brief History

Cambridge Weight Plan can trace its roots back to the 1950s and 60s when biochemist Dr Alan Howard, then working at the Dunn Nutrition Laboratory in Cambridge, developed an interest in weight loss and obesity.

During the 1970s, Dr Howard worked with Dr Ian McLean-Baird, of the West Middlesex Hospital, to develop what they regarded as the "perfect diet". Supported by a lectureship from Downing College, Cambridge, and various grants, the pair set up a research project at the West Middlesex Hospital. Their aim was to create a formula food with excellent weight loss properties but no undesirable side effects. It needed to contain the right level of protein to protect lean tissue; the right level of carbohydrate to promote mild ketosis and eliminate hunger, and the right level of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and essential fatty acids to maintain good health.

Their formula succeeded in producing excellent weight loss results and further work by food technologists enhanced product flavours. The effectiveness and safety of this revised formula was tested in hospitals and with outpatients, and demonstrated remarkable weight loss, patient acceptability and patient safety. The formula then became available in obesity clinics in London and Cambridge and long-term safety was assessed and confirmed by further independent research in the UK, the USA and across Europe. This led to the first commercial version of Cambridge Weight Plan, launched in the UK as The Cambridge Diet in 1984.

Pictured: Eileen Skinner and Dr Alan Howard