Nutrition management of obese critically ill adults: A survey of critical care dietitians in Australia and New Zealand

Kate J. Lambell, Eliza G. Miller, Oana A. Tatucu-Babet, Sandra Peake, Emma J. Ridley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Guideline recommendations for nutrition therapy in critically ill obese adults are inconsistent. This study aimed to describe how dietitians working in an intensive care unit (ICU) in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) approach managing the nutritional needs of an obese, critically ill adult. Methods: Invitations to participate were via personal email communication. The survey was also disseminated through a research email list and a dietitian-based newsletter. The multiple-choice case-based survey consisted of 12 questions relating to nutrition prescription and were based on international nutrition guideline recommendations including (i) weight used in energy and protein predictive equations; (ii) energy and protein prescription at ICU admission and day 7, (iii) commencement of enteral nutrition, and; (iv) use of supplemental protein. Data are reported as n (%). Results: Sixty-three dietitians participated in the survey. Most commonly, adjusted body weight calculated as ‘weight at BMI 25 kg/m2 + 25% excess weight’ was used in equations to guide energy (44 respondents, 70%) and protein (39 respondents, 62%) prescription. At day 1, energy and protein prescription was most commonly based on the European Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ESPEN) guideline recommendation of 20–25 kcal/kg (39 respondents, 62%) and 1.3 g protein/kg adjusted body weight (36 respondents, 57%). Thirteen (21%) respondents had an indirect calorimetry device in their ICU to measure energy expenditure. On day 7, the ESPEN recommendations were again the most common method used for prescribing energy (30 respondents, 48%) and protein (23 respondents. 48%) needs. Thirty-eight dietitians (60%) reported they would use early supplemental protein to meet protein requirements. Conclusions: ICU dietitians in ANZ who responded to the survey most commonly report using the ESPEN ICU guideline recommendations (20–25 kcal/kg and 1.3 g protein/kg adjusted body weight) to guide nutrition prescription in an obese critically ill adult. Prospective studies are required to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-8
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Critical Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Critical care
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Survey

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