Three attractive 20-something women are posing on a beach — two in bikinis, the third in a shapeless black top.
This is no holiday snap. It’s an advert for Metrecal, the first meal replacement diet shake, launched in 1959.
Its provocative message ran: ‘You know why she’s wearing that sweatshirt, don’t you? She’s a little overweight. You knew that because, right now, you’re a little overweight, too.
‘That’s bad. Face it, you’ve got to stop eating.’
Though advertising standards have — mercifully — improved since then, meal-replacement shakes remain hugely popular. What’s more, they are being endorsed as a safe, effective way to beat weight-related illnesses.
Previously lambasted for damaging the metabolism and pumping the body full of substances such as sugar-replacement aspartame (linked to cognitive impairment) and xanthan gum (which can spark allergic reactions), why are they suddenly deemed healthy again — and should we all be drinking them when we want to lose a few pounds?
This week, a landmark study of more than 300 patients with type-2 diabetes found that a calorie-controlled diet of soups and shakes could help reverse the condition. More than a third of those put on the regime were diabetes-free within two years.