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The Blended Diet Study: the perceived benefits and risk of using a blended diet with children and young people with complex health needs and enteral feeding requirements


National Institute for Health Research
Department of Health Palliative Care Funding

Total value of project


Project team

Professor Jane Coad (PI), Dr Alex Toft, Nicky Thomas (nee Ashley), Dr Joseph Manning


South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (David Widdas, Specialist Consultant Nurse) and Professor Jane Coad and the Children and Families Research Team, CTEHR Coventry University

Duration of project

01/04/2015 - 31/07/2018

Funded by NIHR logo

Project overview

With the growing number of children and young people with complex care needs or life-limiting conditions, alternative routes for nutrition have been established (such as gastrostomy feeding). The conditions of children and young people who require such feeding are diverse but could relate to problems with swallowing (dysphagia), digestive disorders or neurological/muscular disorders. However, the use of a blended diet as an alternative to prescribed formula feeds for children fed via a gastrostomy is a contentious issue for clinicians and researchers.

From a rapid review of the literature, we identify that current evidence falls into three categories: (1) those who feel that the use of a blended diet is unsafe and substandard; (2) those who see benefits of such a diet as an alternative in particular circumstances (eg, to reduce constipation) and (3) those who see merit in the blended diet but are cautious to proclaim potential benefits due to the lack of clinical research. There may be some benefits to using blended diets, although concerns around safety, nutrition and practical issues remain.

Project objectives

The use of a blended diet as an alternative to prescribed formula feeds is a contentious issue which has provoked strong opinion in research and amongst professionals. The overall aims of the report will be to examine the evidence for best practice with regards to providing a blended diet via gastronomy tube. Providing reliable evidence about blended diets will help to inform practice and policy makers but also demonstrate where knowledge is still lacking in order to guide future research.

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University of the year shortlisted
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