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Ice cream, a new alternative to oral nutritional supplements

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Cancer patients have been identified as being at risk of nutritional problems due to the treatments of cytotoxic chemotherapy and local radiotherapy which can cause side effects such as general loss of appetite, sore, dry mouth, mucositis and oral thrush (Bella Talwar, 2007). Traditionally, oral nutritional supplement drinks are prescribed to provide nutritional support. Ice cream presents a new popular approach to treat malnutrition and has been proved successful in at least one previous unpublished trial. Ice cream is a cool, soft nutritious food which is very palatable and easy to swallow. Therefore, soft whip ice cream (Malibu Ice cream) machines were installed on the oncology wards. The aims of this study were to assess overall patient satisfaction of the ice cream compared with the standard hospital ice cream, how easy patients thought the new ice cream is to eat and the preference of ice cream over taking oral nutritional supplements. Methods: 

A total of 123 patients on two oncology wards admitted from in 2007 over a 4 week period were asked to complete an internally developed patient satisfaction survey on the intervention, the new ice cream. Patients were asked to rate the new ice cream on taste, texture and preference over the standard ice cream. The new ice cream was given at meal times and available in between meals. The nutritional content of the ice cream (Malibu), 1269.7 kJ (300 kcal), 6 g protein per 6.6 oz portion [679 kJ (162 kcal), 4.1 g protein per 100 g] compares favourably with oral nutritional supplement drinks. The ice cream was given at meal times and available between meals on demand. Results: 

There was a 41% (n = 59) response rate from the patient satisfaction survey. Of the responses received 74% rated the new ice cream as either excellent or good for taste. The majority (79%) of patients who responded thought that the ice cream was easy to eat. When asked about preference of the new ice cream compared to the standard hospital ice cream 77% of patients would prefer to eat the Malibu ice cream. Most (88%) patients would rather eat the ice cream than conventional nutritional supplements. Discussion: 

The patients’ response to the introduction of this variety of ice cream was very positive. The ice cream showed potential benefits due to the compliance in this patient group. Conclusion: 

The use of ice cream illustrates a positive way forward for the dietetic treatment of malnutrition in cancer patients and further work is planned for the future. The use of branded ice creams provides an acceptable alternative to oral nutritional supplements in cancer patients with chemotherapy and radiotherapy associated mouth problems. Reference 

Talwar, B. (2007) Tackling nutritional problems related to cancer and its treatment. Complete Nutr. 7, 61–63.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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