Introduction The global prevalence of obesity has risen significantly in recent decades. There is a pressing need to identify effective interventions to treat established obesity that can be delivered at scale. The aim of the Doctor Referral of Overweight People to a Low-Energy Treatment (DROPLET) study is to determine the clinical effectiveness, feasibility and acceptability of referral to a low-energy total diet replacement programme compared with usual weight management interventions in primary care.
Methods and analysis The DROPLET trial is a randomised controlled trial comparing a low-energy total diet replacement programme with usual weight management interventions delivered in primary care. Eligible patients will be recruited through primary care registers and randomised to receive a behavioural support programme delivered by their practice nurse or a referral to a commercial provider offering an initial 810 kcal/d low-energy total diet replacement programme for 8 weeks, followed by gradual food reintroduction, along with weekly behavioural support for 24 weeks. The primary outcome is weight change at 12 months. The secondary outcomes are weight change at 3 and 6 months, the proportion of participants achieving 5% and 10% weight loss at 12 months, and change in fat mass, haemoglobin A1c, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and systolic and diastolic blood pressure at 12 months. Data will be analysed on the basis of intention to treat. Qualitative interviews on a subsample of patients and healthcare providers will assess their experiences of the weight loss programmes and identify factors affecting acceptability and adherence.
Ethics and dissemination This study has been reviewed and approved by the National Health ServiceHealth Research Authority (HRA)Research Ethics Committee (Ref: SC/15/0337). The trial findings will be disseminated to academic and health professionals through presentations at meetings and peer-reviewed journals and to the public through the media. If the intervention is effective, the results will be communicated to policymakers and commissioners of weight management services.