By: Nikki Nies
The older adult population, geriatrics are still very alive, kicking and screaming. Many use nutrition supplements, such as Ensure and Boost, have become ubiquitous in the geriatric environment. These supplements are a great resource for those losing weight and/or wanting to support current weight.
However, in the American Geriatric Society’s latest Choosing Wisely recommendations, they advise against use of such products. The organization points out that these drinks are composed of mostly water, sugar–in the form of “liquid candy”, oils, proteins and flavorings.
- Status post bariatric surgery
- Those with head, neck or esophageal cancer
- Very sick
- Those in the hospital
many are using these nutrition supplements that aren’t in dire need. For example, if one is limiting his or her food intake due to impaired mobility, inability to use utensil, chewing or swallowing difficulty, having to be on a low salt diet, but finds it unappetizing, a nutrition drink is not the suggested route of nutrition.
I understand each situation is individualized, yet when possible, promoting nutrition through real, fresh food, that’s the route that should be touted, not Ensure or Boost. Perhaps, a more liberalized diet is needed, providing a dietary aid to help with feeding and/or taking into consideration food preferences with specific dietary restrictions.
Also, please be mindful that these nutrition supplements were intended to be used as a meal replacement, not in addition to meals. If supplements+same amount of meals consumed prior to supplement continues with supplements=excess calories, protein and weight.
I’m a fan of nutrition supplements, having seen the positive impact first hand. However, these drinks are designed for specific populations at risk, as stated above. If you encounter weight loss yourself, make an appointment with your primary care physician. Please don’t grab the Ensure or Boost on your next grocery run, you may not even need it!