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Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS)

Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS) are sterilized semi-solids, powders or liquids designed to provide micro and macronutrients.

They are commonly used within the community and acute health settings for individuals who are incapable of meeting their nutritional needs via oral diet alone. These supplements help you get more protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins, and there various flavors of ONS you can choose from including:

  • Juice-based
  • Yogurt or milkshake-type supplements
  • Pudding or dessert type
  • Savory flavored supplements that can be mildly heated to prepare a nourishing soup
  • Liquids and powders can be added to drinks or foods to make them more nourishing

ONS are designed to complement your diet, not entirely replace your snacks or meals. They may be prescribed in the short-run during a period of acute illness, but also for people who have long-term chronic diseases. Indications for its use include:

  • Dysphagia
  • Bowel fistulae
  • Intractable malabsorption
  • Total gastrectomy
  • Malnutrition-related to any diseases (both acute and chronic)
  • Pre-operative preparation of malnourished patients
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

Since ONS often contain micronutrients (minerals and vitamins) and macronutrients (energy and/or protein) at differing levels of concentrations, not all of them are nutritionally complete, meaning that they can’t be used as an only nutrition source. A separate dietetic analysis will take into consideration the actual taste and nutritional requirements along with texture preferences to make sure that a customized prescription is recommended.

Foods for Special Medical Purposes

Foods for special medical purposes come under a specific category of foods that are intended for certain nutritional uses (PARNUT), also known as “dietetic foods.”

FSMPs are carefully designed to feed particular patients who, due to a specific disorder, disease or medical condition, cannot meet their nutritional needs by consuming standard or regular foods. An FSMP differs considerably from normal foods because of its composition or manufacturing process.

In particular, FSMPs are designed for the dietary management of various diseases in patients who have impaired digestive function like absorption, which makes FSMPs the one of the most medically-oriented food types.

Compliance Criteria
To be legally marketed and sold as an FSMP, the relevant food must satisfy a few criteria. Firstly, the food should be safe and strictly comply with the relevant regulatory requirements of dietetic foods with respect to its composition as well as its target group (patients with some type of nutritive deficiency).
Secondly, FSMPs must be used under strict medical supervision and should have labeling information regarding their intended use.

Intended Patients
People use FSMPs for a variety of reasons which include weight loss, weight gain and dysphagia. Patients who need FSMPs range from those who have inherited metabolic diseases and food intolerance, to those who have chronic illnesses. In clinical settings FSMPs are recommended for people who have the following diseases:

  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Cancer
  • Kidney failure
  • Diseases of the lung
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Neurological and psychiatric conditions

FSPMs are very valuable as they support positive health outcomes and reduce costs to the NHS. They help provide:

  • Energy people need to stay active during the day
  • Nutrients people need for repair and growth, helping them stay healthy and strong and help prevent diet-related illnesses