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The Cambridge Diet is a fad diet from the 1970s which, in its various guises, has stipulated a calorie intake between 330 and 1500 kcal per day, principally in liquids made from commercial products sold as part of the diet regime.[1][2] These products are manufactured in the UK and include shakes, meal replacement bars, soups and smoothies.

Development and Reception

The Cambridge Diet was developed in 1970 by Alan Howard at Cambridge University, England. It was launched as a commercial product in the United States in 1980. The Diet was very popular in America but was also the subject of some controversy.[3] It later came under scrutiny from regulators and health authorities after potential health concerns were raised.[4] In the UK, the Cambridge Diet was launched in 1984. In 1986 the Diet was reformulated to adhere to recommendations made by the Commission on Medical Aspects (COMA)[5]

The Cambridge Diet is categorized as a very-low-calorie diet, and as a fad diet.[1] Initially the diet started with a calorie intake of 330 calories/day, but under pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this was later raised to 800 calories/day.[2]

The British Dietetic Association list the possible adverse side effects as including "bad breath, a dry mouth, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea and constipation", and say that any person eating fewer than 600 kcal per day should be medically supervised.


  1. ^ a b Porcello LA (1984). "A practical guide to fad diets". Clin Sports Med. 3 (3): 723–9. PMID 6571242.
  2. ^ a b Thomas RJ (1995). New Product Success Stories: Lessons from Leading Innovators. John Wiley & Sons. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-471-01320-4.
  3. ^ "Dietician Describes Cambridge Diet as 'Wishful Thinking'". Los Angeles Times. 24 June 1982. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  4. ^ "Medical Researchers Urge Caution in Use of Cambridge Diet". The New York Times. 25 November 1983. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  5. ^ "Report on Health and Social Scientific Co-Operation No 31. The Use of Very Low Calorie Diets in Obesity. Committee in Medical Aspects of Food Policy (COMA) DHSS 1987 (HMSO)".