An exploratory study to evaluate whether medical nutrition therapy can improve dietary intake in hospital patients who eat poorly

Agarwal, Ekta, Ferguson, Maree, Banks, Merrilyn, Bauer, Judith, Capra, Sandra, & Isenring, Elisabeth (2013) An exploratory study to evaluate whether medical nutrition therapy can improve dietary intake in hospital patients who eat poorly. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 26(6), pp. 538-543.

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Background and aims

The Australasian Nutrition Care Day Survey (ANCDS) reported two-in-five patients consume ≤50% of the offered food in Australian and New Zealand hospitals. After controlling for confounders (nutritional status, age, disease type and severity), the ANCDS also established an independent association between poor food intake and increased in-hospital mortality. This study aimed to evaluate if medical nutrition therapy (MNT) could improve dietary intake in hospital patients eating poorly.


An exploratory pilot study was conducted in the respiratory, neurology and orthopaedic wards of an Australian hospital. At baseline, percentage food intake (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%) was evaluated for each main meal and snack for a 24-hour period in 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. Food intake was re-evaluated on the seventh day following recruitment (post-MNT).


184 patients were observed over four weeks; 32 patients were referred for MNT. Although baseline and post-MNT data for 20 participants (68±17years, 65% females) indicated a significant increase in median energy and protein intake post-MNT (3600kJ/day, 40g/day) versus baseline (2250kJ/day, 25g/day) (p<0.05), the increased intake met only 50% of dietary requirements. Persistent nutrition impact symptoms affected intake.


In this pilot study whilst dietary intake improved, it remained inadequate to meet participants’ estimated requirements due to ongoing nutrition-impact symptoms. Appropriate medical management and early enteral feeding could be a possible solution for such patients.

Impact and interest:

2 citations in Scopus
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1 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 63709
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: acute care, inadequate intake, medical nutrition therapy
DOI: 10.1111/jhn.12173
ISSN: 1365-277X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NUTRITION AND DIETETICS (111100) > Nutrition and Dietetics not elsewhere classified (111199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 The British Dietetic Association Ltd.
Deposited On: 27 Oct 2013 22:08
Last Modified: 20 May 2016 01:03

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