Should you shake up your diet? We put eight High Street slimming drinks to the test as a major study says there is proof they can reverse diabetes

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.

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