Writing in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Anderson, also a noted nutritionist, says most people in the United States only have vague idea that soy is a healthy food.
Anderson tested two commercially available meal replacements -- one soy-based, and the other milk-based -- among obese adults for 12 weeks.
Both groups lost weight but the soy-based group lost slightly more weight in any given week, and displayed lower serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. Soy intake also produced small but significant reductions in serum glucose values.
"The bottom line is soy is healthy, and while incorporating it into weight loss may not have a more dramatic effect on your waistline than other nutrition plans, its benefits go beyond weight loss toward increasing overall health," Anderson said.
In an accompanying article, Anderson raised the possibility that poor snack choices may play an active role in increasing rates of childhood obesity. He said snacking can be healthful when the foods are high in nutritional value and low in calories.