Assessment of the nutrition status of patients with Huntington's disease

Nutrition. 2004 Feb;20(2):192-6. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2003.10.007.


Objective: The purpose of the present study was to compare the nutrition status of patients with Huntington's disease (HD) with that of control subjects by analyzing anthropometric and biochemical indicators, energy, and macronutrient intake and to determine which indicators are most altered in HD patients.

Methods: We assessed the nutrition status of 25 HD patients and 25 age- and sex-matched controls by measuring anthropometric and biochemical indicators. Food intake data were obtained by the 3-d record method to assess mean daily energy and macronutrient intake. We studied variables reported by the patients such as increased or decreased appetite, mastication difficulties, and solid food and liquid food dysphagia. A neurologist assessed the clinical features of HD patients by using the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale.

Results: HD patients showed significantly lower anthropometric variables but significantly higher kilocalorie intake. Among the subjective variables analyzed, patient-referred weight loss, increased appetite, mastication, and solid food dysphagia were significantly more frequent in HD patients than in controls. We also found relations between motor disability and some anthropometric parameters in HD patients. In particular, we found a significant correlation between total motor disability score and body mass index and arm muscle circumference (r = -0.464 and -0.445, respectively; P < 0.05) and with percentage of body fat (r = -0.496, P = 0.012).

Conclusions: It is of the utmost importance to identify nutritional alterations in HD patients and to find strategies to cover their kilocalorie and nutrient requirements to improve their quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology*
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / complications*
  • Huntington Disease / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mastication / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutritional Requirements*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Weight Loss


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins