Oral feeding options for people with dementia: a systematic review

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Mar;59(3):463-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03320.x.


To review the benefits of oral feeding options in people with dementia.

Design: Systematic literature search with review of potentially eligible studies by two independent investigators.

Setting: PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and PsychINFO literature indices between January 1990 and October 2009.

Participants: Clinical trials with random or nonrandom control groups were included if they reported on clinical outcomes of oral feeding interventions for people with dementia.

Measurements: Investigators abstracted data from included studies using a structured instrument. Studies were graded on quality and potential bias, and overall strength of evidence was summarized.

Results: Thirteen controlled trials provided data on use of supplements for people with dementia, and 12 controlled trials tested assisted feeding or other interventions. Studies provide moderate-strength evidence for high-calorie supplements, and low-strength evidence for appetite stimulants, assisted feeding, and modified foods to promote weight gain in people with dementia. The few studies measuring function or survival showed no difference.

Conclusion: High-calorie supplements and other oral feeding options can help people with dementia with feeding problems to gain weight; they are unlikely to improve other outcomes. These treatments can be offered alone or in combination as an alternative to tube feeding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dementia / physiopathology*
  • Enteral Nutrition / methods*
  • Humans