Managing malnutrition: The importance of taste

An educational film for healthcare professionals, about the role and importance of taste of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) when managing malnutrition has been produced by Abbott and is endorsed for continuing professional development.

Learn more about how taste may influence compliance to oral nutritional supplements with a CPD-endorsed educational video for healthcare professionals
Learn more about how taste may influence compliance to oral nutritional supplements with a CPD-endorsed educational video for healthcare professionals

The film, called The Power of Taste, explores taste from a variety of perspectives, considering the psychology of taste, the role of sensory science and the clinical application of taste. It provides training and practical insights and is endorsed for CPD by the British Dietetic Association.


Abbott has become a leading partner in nutrition by creating products that help improve the health and wellbeing of infants, children and adults worldwide. Read more at

 This article has been provided by Abbott for GP Connect

The cost of malnutrition

Malnutrition continues to present a significant challenge to healthcare professionals both in clinical and financial terms. It is estimated that over 3m people in the UK are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition with the majority of these (93%) based in the community,1 and with associated costs of £19.6bn a year.2

NICE has identified better nutritional care as the third largest potential source of cost savings to the NHS,3 and evidence shows that failing to sufficiently invest in nutritional care will leave CCGs facing significant additional costs associated with treating malnourished patients.4

Why taste matters

ONS are a clinically5 and cost-effective6 way of managing malnutrition when taken as prescribed. Research has shown that taste is one of the most important sensory drivers of compliance to ONS and strongly influences patient preference.7,8

However, taste can become a barrier if patients are prescribed an ONS that they do not like. Providing choice and products that meet patients’ needs in terms of taste and sensory preferences may help to achieve nutritional goals and improve patient outcomes.7

'Scientific research supports the use of oral nutritional supplements as part of a broad approach but these will only be effective if they are taken as prescribed,' says Dr Patricia Macnair, specialty doctor in medicine for the elderly at Milford Hospital in Surrey, and one of the experts featured in the video.

'Quite simply, if a person doesn’t like a supplement they are unlikely to take it regularly. So helping them to find a nutritional supplement that they do like to take is a key factor in empowering them to improve their nutritional intake.'

The film can be accessed here


  1. BAPEN. Introduction to Malnutrition, 2016. Accessed Feb 2016.
  2. BAPEN. The cost of malnutrition in England and potential cost savings from nutritional interventions, 2015. 
  3. NICE. Review of Clinical Guideline (CG 32) – Nutrition Support for Adults Oral Nutrition Support, Enteral Tube Feeding and Parenteral Nutrition. CG32 review. NICE, 2011.
  4. Brotherton A et al. Eliminating avoidable malnutrition: the role of commissioners and primary care. Guidelines in Practice supplement, 2012.
  5. NICE. Nutrition support for adults: oral nutrition support, enteral tube feeding and parenteral nutrition. CG32. NICE, February 2006.
  6. NICE. Nutrition support in adults. QS24. NICE, November 2012.
  7. Ozcagli TG et al. A study in four European countries to examine the importance of sensory attributes of oral nutritional supplements on preference and likelihood of compliance. Turk J Gastroenterol 2013; 24(3): 266-272.
  8. Lad H et al. Elderly patients compliance and elderly patients and health professional's, views, and attitudes towards prescribed sip-feed supplements. J Nutr Health Aging 2005; 9(5): 310-314.

Date of preparation: March 2016

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