Impact of Individualized Diet Intervention on Body Composition and Respiratory Variables in Children With Respiratory Insufficiency: A Pilot Intervention Study

Pediatr Crit Care Med. 2015 Jul;16(6):e157-64. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000000428.


Objectives: Diet modification may improve body composition and respiratory variables in children with respiratory insufficiency. Our objective was to examine the effect of an individualized diet intervention on changes in weight, lean body mass, minute ventilation, and volumetric CO2 production in children dependent on long-term mechanical ventilatory support.

Design: Prospective, open-labeled interventional study.

Setting: Study subjects' homes.

Patients: Children, 1 month to 17 years old, dependent on at least 12 hr/d of transtracheal mechanical ventilatory support.

Interventions: Twelve weeks of an individualized diet modified to deliver energy at 90-110% of measured energy expenditure and protein intake per age-based guidelines.

Measurements and main results: During a multidisciplinary home visit, we obtained baseline values of height and weight, lean body mass percent by bioelectrical impedance analysis, actual energy and protein intake by food record, and measured energy expenditure by indirect calorimetry. An individualized diet was then prescribed to optimize energy and protein intake. After 12 weeks on this interventional diet, we evaluated changes in weight, height, lean body mass percent, minute ventilation, and volumetric CO2 production. Sixteen subjects, mean age 9.3 years (SD, 4.9), eight male, completed the study. For the diet intervention, a majority of subjects required a change in energy and protein prescription. The mean percentage of energy delivered as carbohydrate was significantly decreased, 51.7% at baseline versus 48.2% at follow-up, p = 0.009. Mean height and weight increased on the modified diet. Mean lean body mass percent increased from 58.3% to 61.8%. Minute ventilation was significantly lower (0.18 L/min/kg vs 0.15 L/min/kg; p = 0.04), and we observed a trend toward lower volumetric CO2 production (5.4 mL/min/kg vs 5.3 mL/min/kg; p = 0.06) after 12 weeks on the interventional diet.

Conclusions: Individualized diet modification is feasible and associated with a significant decrease in minute ventilation, a trend toward significant reduction in CO2 production, and improved body composition in children on long-term mechanical ventilation. Optimization of respiratory variables and lean body mass by diet modification may benefit children with respiratory insufficiency in the ICU.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / diet therapy*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Carbon Dioxide