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Food for patients at nutritional risk: A model of food sensory quality to promote intake

Sorensen, Janice, Holm, Lotte, Frøst, Michael Bom, Kondrup, Jens
Clinical nutrition 2012 v.31 no.5 pp. 637-646
food choices, food intake, food quality, food records, foods, gastrointestinal system, hospital diet, hunger, interviews, medicine, models, motivation, odors, patients, risk, surgery, taste, temperature, texture
BACKGROUND & AIMS: The aim was to investigate food sensory quality as experienced and perceived by patients at nutritional risk within the context of establishing a framework to develop foods to develop foods to promote intake. METHODS: Patients at nutritional risk (NRS-2002; food intake ≤75% of requirements) were observed at meals in hospital (food choice, hunger/fullness/appetite scores). This was followed by a semi-structured interview based on the observations and focusing on food sensory perception and eating ability as related to food quality. Two weeks post-discharge, a 3-day food record was taken and interviews were repeated by phone. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analysed thematically. RESULTS: Patients (N = 22) from departments of gastrointestinal surgery, oncology, infectious medicine, cardiology, and hepatology were interviewed at meals (N = 65) in hospital (82%) and post-discharge (18%). Food sensory perception and eating ability dictated specific food sensory needs (i.e., appearance, aroma, taste, texture, temperature, and variety defining food sensory quality to promote intake) within the context of motivation to eat including: pleasure, comfort, and survival. Patients exhibited large inter- and intra-individual variability in their food sensory needs. CONCLUSIONS: The study generated a model for optimising food sensory quality and developing user-driven, innovative foods to promote intake in patients at nutritional risk.