Variables Associated With the Use of Complete Oral Calorie Supplements in Children With Feeding Problems

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To examine child and parent variables associated with complete oral calorie supplement use among children with feeding problems.


Correlational examination of data from patient intake surveys.


Hospital-based feeding program.


Participants included 281 parents of children referred to a hospital-based feeding clinic, including 114 who received supplements (70.2% boys; mean age, 60.1 months) and 167 who did not receive (79.6% boys; mean age, 67.5 months).

Variables Measured:

Children's age, gender, weight status, diagnostic category (no special needs, autism, or other special needs), supplement intake, oral motor problems, child mealtime behavior (using the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire), parent feeding practices (using the Parent Mealtime Action Scale), and diet variety for child and parent.


Chi-square analyses compared children who did and did not receive supplements for their percentage of gender, diagnostic, and weight status categories; t tests or Mann-Whitney U tests compared children who did and did not receive supplements, for age, oral motor problems, children's mealtime behavior, parent feeding practices, and diet variety.


Compared with children who did not receive nutritional supplements, those who did were younger (P < .01) and more underweight (P < .001), and showed less Food Responsiveness (P < .001), less Food Enjoyment (P < .001), more Food Satiety (P < .001, and more Slow Eating (P < .001), and their parents were more likely to use Insistence on Eating (P < .001).


Whereas supplement use was related to underweight, 78.2% of children receiving them were normal weight or overweight, which suggests that supplements are being used to address mealtime selective eating. The use of supplements should be considered carefully because they do not appear to increase diet variety and may increase the chance of overweight over time.

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