14 Nov 2019
The use of blended food administered into an enteral feeding tube is commonly referred to as following a ‘blended diet’. Alternative descriptions exist including liquidised tube-feeds, blenderised food, liquidised diet and pureed table food (1). This mode of enteral tube-feeding has been met with caution, as some professionals raised concern that blended diet could be unsafe in comparison to commercially prepared enteral formulas (2). Professional consensus indicates use of blended diet has increased in the UK. Despite the perceived increase in use, blended diet has been under-researched. It is unclear if the perceived increase in risk (nutritional deficiency, feeding tube blockage and infection) is occurring or with significant frequency compared to those using commercial enteral formula alone.
Furthermore, research has suggested blended diet can have physiological benefits such as improvement in symptoms of vomiting, reflux and abnormal bowel habit (3-7). Robust research is needed to investigate why blended diet can have beneficial effects for some tube-fed individuals. In addition to physical benefits, social and emotional benefits have been reported by the parents and carers of tube-fed children and young people (3-7). In surveys, UK dietitians have reported variation in their ability to support families who have chosen blended diet due to a lack of clear professional guidance (8,9). This position statement aims to support UK dietitians in clinical practice (in both paediatric and adult settings) to ensure tube-fed individuals receive effective, evidence-based, equitable and quality care.
Further practical guidance and decision-making tools will be provided in an updated practice toolkit - This is now back underway following a delay due to COVID-19 but is expected to be published in spring 2021.