Is Slim-Fast Safe for Kids?

Slim-Fast weight-loss products are a popular way to lose weight, but kids who use them could be putting themselves at risk. While occasional use of the shakes and bars created by Slim-Fast might not be a problem, extended or frequent consumption might lead to health problems or teach kids unhealthy styles of eating. Kids who want to lose weight should talk to a doctor about the right way to diet and try to eat nutritious meals instead of relying on shortcuts that might be ineffective for young dieters.

A mother and her daughter are drinking shakes. (Image: DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images)

Slim-Fast

Slim-Fast provides meal-replacement shakes, meal bars and snack bars designed to help people lose weight. People using Slim-Fast usually replace the majority of their meals with these products, thereby reducing their total caloric intake. The foods provided by Slim-Fast are low in calories but contain plenty of nutrients, so you don't suffer a nutrient deficiency when you are on the plan.

Kids and Slim-Fast Dieting

Slim-Fast is designed for adult dieters, and there is no specific weight-loss plan for kids using this system. The safety of long-term use of meal-replacement bars and shakes, such as Slim-Fast, by kids remains unknown, but weight loss in children typically requires a balanced diet that is specifically designed for the age group in question. Not only might Slim-Fast be a potentially unsafe way for kids to lose weight, it might also be ineffective. A study reported in the December 2010 issue of "Obesity" found that using Slim-Fast products resulted in some short-term weight loss in adolescents, but failed to provide long-term weight loss.

Slim-Fast as Snack

While kids should probably not use Slim-Fast as a method of dieting, preferring instead to follow a doctor-directed eating and exercise plan, the occasional consumption of Slim-Fast products as a snack is likely to be safe. Slim-Fast shakes, meal bars and snack bars are lower in calories and higher in nutrients than junk food such as candy bars, cookies and chips, and they could serve as a healthy treat when used in place of these unhealthy foods.

Concerns

One major concern with frequent consumption of Slim-Fast products by kids, reports KidsHealth, is that it teaches an unhealthy way of eating by suggesting that, instead of eating healthy meals, children can get their nutrients from prepackaged shakes and bars. Kids who consume a lot of these products might actually experience nutrient deficiencies, since the products contain appropriate amounts for adults and may not have enough of certain nutrients, such as calcium, that kids require more of.

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