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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


GONZALEZ MOLERO, I. et al. Influence of temperature on food intake in hospitalized patients. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2008, vol.23, n.1, pp.54-59. ISSN 1699-5198.

Background and objectives: Prevalence of hyponutrition in hospitalized patients is very high and it has been shown to be an important prognostic factor. Most of admitted patients depend on hospital food to cover their nutritional demands being important to assess the factors influencing their intake, which may be modified in order to improve it and prevent the consequences of inadequate feeding. In previous works, it has been shown that one of the worst scored characteristics of dishes was the temperature. The aim of this study was to assess the influence of temperature on patient's satisfaction and amount eaten depending on whether the food was served in isothermal trolleys keeping proper food temperature or not. Material and methods: We carried out satisfaction surveys to hospitalized patients having regular diets, served with or without isothermal trolleys. The following data were gathered: age, gender, weight, number of visits, mobility, autonomy, amount of orally taken medication, intake of out-of-hospital foods, qualification of food temperature, presentation and smokiness, amount of food eaten, and reasons for not eating all the content of the tray. Results: Of the 363 surveys, 134 (37.96%) were done to patients with isothermal trays and 229 (62.04%) to patients without them. Sixty percent of the patients referred having eaten less than the normal amount within the last week, the most frequent reason being decreased appetite. During lunch and dinner, 69.3% and 67.7%, respectively, ate half or less of the tray content, the main reasons being as follows: lack of appetite (42% at lunch time and 40% at dinner), do not like the food (24.3 and 26.2%) or taste (15.3 and 16.8%). Other less common reasons were the odor, the amount of food, having nausea or vomiting, fatigue, and lack of autonomy. There were no significant differences in the amount eaten by gender, weight, number of visits, amount of medication, and level of physical activity. The food temperature was classified as adequate by 62% of the patients, the presentation by 95%, and smokiness by 85%. When comparing the patients served with or without isothermal trays, there were no differences with regards to baseline characteristics analyzed that might have had an influence on amount eaten. Ninety percent of the patients with isothermal trolley rated the food temperature as good, as compared with 57.2% of the patients with conventional trolley, the difference being statistically significant (P = 0.000). Besides, there were differences in the amount of food eaten between patients with and without isothermal trolley, so that 41% and 27.7% ate all the tray content, respectively, difference being statistically significant (P = 0.007). There were no differences in smokiness or presentation rating. Conclusions: Most of the patients (60%) had decreased appetite during hospital admission. The percentage of hospitalized patients rating the food temperature as being good is higher among patients served with isothermal trolleys. The amount of food eaten by the patients served with isothermal trolleys is significantly higher that in those without them.

Keywords : Hospital diet; Satisfaction; Temperature.

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