Whitepaper: Benefits of Dairy Proteins in the Nutritional Support of Cancer Patients
It occurs when people cannot consume the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Malnutrition is a global health concern affecting more than one billion people. It is caused by various factors including starvation, imbalanced diet, ageing, illnesses, and side effects of medical treatment. Causes are multi-factorial and interlinked, occurring alone or in combination. People with certain medical conditions, lower socio-economic status and certain demographics, such as the elderly, are at higher risk of malnutrition.
Patients in care homes or elderly people living independently are affected by malnutrition.
There are many factors that may increase the risk of becoming malnourished in older age such as:
Malnutrition increases the risk of progressive decline in health, decreased physical strength, activity levels and even cognitive functions. At some point this may lead to losing the ability to continue the daily activities without help of another person.
Hospitalised elderly patients have a high prevalence of malnutrition. To identify individuals at risk, malnutrition should be routinely screened in all hospitalised and institutionalised patients such as in care homes and elderly homes to prevent malnutrition from progressing and improve nutritional status.
Patients in hospital are malnourished.
Disease-related malnutrition is a type of malnutrition when the inadequate nutrient intake is a result of a disease or its treatments. It persists in healthcare settings, despite great advances in medical care. Patients often experience their nutritional status worsening during hospital stays due to missing mealtimes, pre-surgery fasting, changes in appetite, and general unwellness.
Malnutrition is associated with higher hospitalisation as well as higher morbidity and mortality rates. Malnourished patients have slower recovery times that often results in longer hospital stays, as well as higher readmission rates after discharge. This can greatly increase medical costs for patients, and overall health burden for countries.
Between 20 to over 70% of cancer patients become malnourished depending on the type, site and treatment of the tumour.
There is an opportunity to improve nutritional status with the small feeding windows in chronic disease by making high-density nutrition more palatable, and therefore making it easier for hospital-bound people to meet their dietary requirements. Proper dietary management provides both energy and immune support, which is especially important in individuals suffering from disease related malnutrition.
Nutritional deficiencies should not be seen as inevitable consequence of older age or illnesses. There is an opportunity to improve nutritional status.
Oral nutritional supplements are Foods for Special Medical Purposes (FSMP) designed and developed according to strict guidelines to provide energy and nutrient dense solutions in liquid or powdered form. They are developed based on scientific and clinical evidence with the levels and sources of nutrients modified to meet the special requirements of the patient group.
In addition to the technical challenges (feasibility, nutritional validation, shelf-life stability), it is crucial to develop products that are well tolerated and accepted by consumers in order to improve the total nutritional intake.