What Are the Dangers of the Cambridge Diet?

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The Cambridge Diet is said to have helped 6 million Americans in weight loss. According to a November 1983 report in New York Times by Jane Brody, the Cambridge diet led to some cases of hospitalization and even death before Cambridge Plan International sought bankruptcy protection more than 25 years ago. The diet has also been linked to health complications like weakness, fatigue, irregular heartbeat and nausea.


The diet was invented by Dr. Alan Howard, a chemist from Cambridge University in England. His aim was to formulate a product that would lead to weight loss, but not at the expense of protein loss from the body. His recommended eating plan included all of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Recommended Daily Allowances of vitamins and minerals.


The Cambridge plan is a low calorie formula that offers three nutritionally balanced liquid meals a day. The meal plan consists of 300 calories per day, which is equivalent to semi-starvation. According to Dr. Sami Hashim, director of the Division of Metabolism and Nutrition at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center," anyone who tries to subsist on fewer than 600 calories per day should do so only under hospital supervision."


The Cambridge diet plan has a very low calorie count. According to Dr. Theodore Van Itallie of St. Luke's- Roosevelt Hospital Center, " Other effects of very-low-calorie diets may include fatigue, loss of libido, lack of menstrual periods, intolerance to cold, gastrointestinal disturbances, skin dryness, hair loss, irritability, depression and anxiety."

Cambridge diet plan and minerals:

The Cambridge diet formula claims to include 100 percent of the U. S. Recommended Daily Allowance for all vitamins and minerals. But according to the report in New York Times, the critical minerals potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium and some vitamins are lost in significant amounts during rapid weight reduction, so simply meeting the minimum daily requirements for consumption may not be enough to keep the body sufficiently supplied.

Expert Insight

The Cambridge plan certainly leads to fast weight loss, but there are substantive questions about the effectiveness of the loss. According to Dr. Howard, ''the maintenance of weight loss remains a major problem in this type of therapy, as it does for those undergoing complete starvation.''


Cambridge diet derives most of its protein from milk which contains lactose. Often people are allergic to lactose and may suffer from abdominal pain and flatulence.

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