Nutrition delivery for obese ICU patients: Delivery issues, lack of guidelines, and missed opportunities

Robert G. Martindale, Mark DeLegge, Stephen McClave, Craig Monroe, Vance Smith, Laszlo Kiraly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The most appropriate enteral formula for the severely obese population has yet to be determined. The obese patient in the intensive care unit (ICU) creates numerous difficulties for managing care, one being the ability to deliver appropriate and timely nutrition. Access for nutrition therapy, either enteral or parenteral, can also create a challenge. Currently, no specific guidelines are available on a national or international scale to address the issues of how and when to feed the obese patient in the ICU. A bias against feeding these patients exists, secondary to the perception that an enormous quantity of calories is stored in adipose tissue. Making a specialty enteral formula for obesity from existing commercial formulas and other modular nutrient components is not practical, secondary to difficulty with solubility issues, dilution of the formula, and safety concerns. Using today's concepts and current metabolic data, a formula could be produced that would address many of the specific metabolic derangements noted in obesity. This formula should have a high-protein, low-carbohydrate content with at least a portion of the lipid source coming from fish oil. Specific nutrients that may be beneficial in obesity include arginine, glutamine, leucine, L-carnitine, lipoic acid, S-adenosylmethionine, and betaine. Certain trace minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and selenium may also be of value in the obese population. The concept of a specific bariatric formulation for the ICU setting is theoretically sound, is scientifically based, and could be delivered to patients safely.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80S-87S
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number5 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Bariatric
  • Enteral formula
  • Immunomodulation
  • Inflammation
  • Severe obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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