Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS)
Lifestyle Preventative Health and Medications > Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS)
ONS are sterile liquids, semi-solids or powders that provide macro- and micronutrients. (1) It is usually prescribed to individuals who are unable to achieve their nutrient requirements through whole foods alone. These conditions include:
On the other hand, a person might need to consume ONS as sole source of nutrition if he or she has dysphagia requiring tube feeding. Hence, they may be prescribed in an acute setting as short-term or in long-term chronic conditions.
To encourage intake or compliance, there are different flavours of ONS available. Adult supplementary formulas can be classified into many categories according to their nutrient profiles and indications. Some provide complete nutrition while others might be lacking in some nutrients or only provide certain nutrients. The table below shows the types of common formulas and their general characteristics.
|Formula Type||General Characteristics|
|Fruit juice-like formulas or clear fluids||
Note. Adapted from “New guidelines on nutrition support for the critically ill,” by Corrigan ML, 2016, Today’s Geriatr Med, 9(6):8-9 and “Enteral nutrition formula selection: Current evidence and implications for practice,” by Brown B, Roehl K, Betz Melanie, 2016, ASPEN Nutr in Clin Pract., 30(1):72-85.
The use of ONS may improve certain medical outcomes, for instance, reducing the length of stay in hospital, medical cost, hospital readmission rate, when they are used appropriately in certain medical conditions. (2) Upon initiation, there should be close monitoring done by the dietitians or doctors to monitor the effectiveness of ONS and to prevent any complications related to overfeeding such as biochemical derangements. Therefore, individuals should consult the dietitians for a thorough assessment and proper prescription before choosing ONS, especially the disease-specific formulas.
1. BAPEN. Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS). 2016. http://www.bapen.org.uk/nutrition-support/nutrition-by-mouth/oral-nutritional-supplements. Assessed February 18, 2017.
2. McClave SA, Taylor BE, Martindale RG, et al. Guidelines for the provision and assessment of nutrition support therapy in the adult critically ill patient: Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and American Society for Parental and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.). JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2016;40(2):159-211.
3. Corrigan ML. New guidelines on nutrition support for the critically ill. Today’s Geriatr Med. 2016;9(6):8-9.
4. Brown B, Roehl K, Betz Melanie. Enteral nutrition formula selection: Current evidence and implications for practice. ASPEN Nutr in Clin Pract. 2016;30(1):72-85.
Take home messages:
A platform that has been set up by the late Professor Seah CS, The National Foundation of Digestive Diseases (NFDD) serves to acquire and disseminate knowledge to the public on the topics of the functions of the digestive system (the gastrointestinal tract, the liver and the pancreas) and the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases of the digestive system.
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