Introduction to Food First
A Guide to Feeding People in Hospital
What is "Food First"
For some time there has been an increasing awareness around the importance of good nutrition in both the treatment of ill health and the prevention of disease.
Various reports have highlighted the often unrecognised problem of hospital malnutrition and the importance of food as a crucial aspect of clinical therapy.
Supporting work and recommendations from the “Better Hospital Food Project” further emphasise this point and the need to ensure that patients are provided with appropriate food to meet their nutritional and social needs.
More recent reports and government recommendations including;
- Food and Nutritional care in hospital; how to prevent under-nutrition (Council of Europe 2003)
- The NHS plan (Department of Health 2000)
- Standards for better health Core standard 14 and 15 (Department of health 2006)
- NICE Guidance for Adult Nutritional Support February 2006
All recognise the need to assess the nutritional status of patients and to treat if either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition initially with a food first approach and then with oral, enteral or parenteral nutrition to meet nutritional needs.
The “Food First” approach aims to emphasise the importance of feeding people during their hospital stay to either improve or maintain their nutritional status and hence aid recovery. It also encourages the need to complete nutritional assessment for both in and outpatients using the malnutrition universal screening tool (MUST).