Background: Undernutrition is common in hospital patients with stroke, can develop or worsen in hospital, and is associated with poor outcomes. We aimed to establish whether routine oral nutritional supplements improve outcome after stroke.
Methods: The FOOD trials are a family of three pragmatic, multicentre, randomised controlled trials. We measured the outcomes of stroke patients who could swallow and who were randomly allocated normal hospital diet or normal hospital diet plus oral nutritional supplements until hospital discharge. The primary outcome was death or poor outcome (modified Rankin scale [MRS] grade 3-5), 6 months after enrollment, measured unaware of treatment allocation. Analysis was by intention to treat.
Findings: Between Nov 1, 1996, and July 31, 2003, 4023 patients were enrolled by 125 hospitals in 15 countries. Only 314 (8%) patients were judged to be undernourished at baseline. Vital status and MRS at the end of the trial were known for 4012 and 4004 patients, respectively. Supplemented diet was associated with an absolute reduction in risk of death of 0.7% (95% CI -1.4 to 2.7) and an increased risk of death or poor outcome of 0.7% (-2.3 to 3.8).
Interpretation: We could not confirm the anticipated 4% absolute benefit for death or poor outcome from routine oral nutritional supplements for mainly well nourished stroke patients in hospital. Our results would be compatible with a 1% or 2% absolute benefit or harm from oral supplements. These results do not support a policy of routine oral supplementation after stroke.