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Caloric supplements for the elderly

Gammack, Julie K.; Sanford, Angela M.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: January 2015 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 32–36
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000125
AGEING: BIOLOGY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Tommy Cederholm and John E. Morley

Purpose of review Malnutrition and weight loss have serious consequences in older adults. The use of caloric supplementation may provide nutritional and functional benefits in this population. This article reviews the recent literature on oral nutritional supplementation (ONS) in the elderly.

Recent findings Inadequate caloric intake is a factor consistently associated with weight loss, and use of ONS can increase weight in community-dwelling as well as acute and chronically ill elders. ONS does not improve function or mortality in the general elderly population but has shown benefits in those who are frail or malnourished. Improvement in functional status and mortality was not seen in postacute, hip fracture, or demented populations.

Summary At this time, research does not clearly show that providing ONS to unselected groups of older adults results in functional or mortality benefits; however, a small increase in body weight is a likely outcome.

Division of Geriatric Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Correspondence to Julie K. Gammack, MD, CMD, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, 1402 S. Grand Blvd., M238, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA. Tel: +1 314 977 8462; e-mail:

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