Medical nutrition therapy and simple interventions can improve intake in patients who eat poorly in hospital

Ekta Agarwal, Maree Ferguson, Merrilyn Banks, Judy Bauer, Sandra Capra, Elisabeth Isenring

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


The Australasian Nutrition Care Day Survey (ANCDS) reported two-in-five patients in Australian and New Zealand hospitals consume ≤50% of the offered food. The ANCDS found a significant association between poor food intake and increased in-hospital mortality after controlling for confounders (nutritional status, age, disease type and severity)1. Evidence for the effectiveness of medical nutrition therapy (MNT) in hospital patients eating poorly is lacking. An exploratory study was conducted in respiratory, neurology and orthopaedic wards of an Australian hospital. At baseline, 24-hour food intake (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% of offered meals) was evaluated for patients hospitalised for ≥2 days and not under dietetic review. Patients consuming ≤50% of offered meals due to nutrition-impact symptoms were referred to ward dietitians for MNT with food intake re-evaluated on day-7. 184 patients were observed over four weeks. Sixty-two patients (34%) consumed ≤50% of the offered meals. Simple interventions (feeding/menu assistance, diet texture modifications) improved intake to ≥75% in 30 patients who did not require further MNT. Of the 32 patients referred for MNT, baseline and day-7 data were available for 20 patients (68±17years, 65% females, BMI: 22±5kg/m2, median energy, protein intake: 2250kJ, 25g respectively). On day-7, 17 participants (85%) demonstrated significantly higher consumption (4300kJ, 53g; p<0.01). Three participants demonstrated no improvement due to ongoing nutrition-impact symptoms. “Percentage food intake” was a quick tool to identify patients in whom simple interventions could enhance intake. MNT was associated with improved dietary intake in hospital patients. Further research is needed to establish a causal relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Article number164
Pages (from-to)4-4
Number of pages1
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventDietitians Association of Australia (DAA) 30th national conference - Canberra, Australia
Duration: 23 May 201325 May 2015
Conference number: 30th


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