Supplements in the treatment of malnutrition

Effects of oral nutritional supplementation in the management of malnutrition in hospital and post-hospital discharged patients in India: a randomised, open-label, controlled trial

Huynh et al., JHND Early View


Hospital malnutrition is a significant problem that still remains under-recognised and under-treated in India. The present study assessed the effects of oral nutritional supplementation (ONS) in conjunction with dietary counselling versus dietary counselling (control) alone in malnourished patients when given in hospital and post-hospital discharge.


The present study was conducted in nine private and four public hospitals. Patients from various medical wards were screened for malnutrition using modified Subjective Global Assessment (mSGA) and randomised to control (n = 106) or ONS (n = 106) for 12 weeks. Two servings (460 mL) of ONS were prescribed daily, providing 432 kcal, 16 g of protein and 28 micronutrients. The primary outcome was weight gain over 12 weeks. Other outcomes included change in body mass index (BMI), serum pre-albumin, albumin and C-reactive protein levels, energy and nutrient intakes, and handgrip strength at weeks 4, 8 and 12, as well as mSGA score at week 12.


The mean age of patients was 39 years. Fifty-five percent were males and 90.3% were moderately malnourished (mSGA score B) at baseline. At week 12, ONS significantly improved certain parameters compared to control: weight (2.0 versus 0.9 kg; P < 0.001), BMI (0.76 versus 0.37 kg m–2P < 0.001) and energy intake per day (560 versus 230 kcal; P < 0.05). There were no differences in biochemical parameters and mSGA score between groups. Additionally, patients on ONS who were more functionally impaired at baseline had significantly greater weight gain and improved handgrip strength scores than controls.


ONS use throughout hospital stay and post-hospital discharge significantly improved energy intake and weight in malnourished Indian patients. Those patients with poorer functional status at baseline demonstrated the most benefit.

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