Use of Sensory Nutrition to Optimize and Evaluate Food Products for Patients with Cancer

  • Author / Creator
    Enriquez Fernandez, Blanca Estela
  • Inadequate nutrition is prevalent among patients with cancer and has a detrimental impact on prognosis. However, development of taste appealing foods targeting specific nutritional requirements of this population has been overlooked and few commercially available products can be found for that purpose. Snacks were chosen as vehicles for fortification given their potential to increase caloric and nutrient intake in a small portion size. The aim of this research was to investigate different aspects impacting the acceptance of nutrient-rich snacks for patients with cancer. A commercially available oat-based beverage was proposed as a nutrient-rich snack and its sensory acceptance and perception was evaluated before and after fortification. Additionally, a survey was conducted among patients to identify snack foods preferred as potential carriers for fortification and the influence of experienced symptoms on those preferences.
    Overall liking and just-about-right (JAR) evaluation of three flavors at two different temperatures of the oat-based beverage among patients with cancer (n=92) and healthy participants (n=136) was assessed. Products were liked and no significant differences in liking were observed among them or between both consumer populations. Results of JAR evaluations highlighted some differences in perception between patients with cancer and healthy participants, and high perceived sweetness significantly decreased liking of three of the products. A chocolate flavor oat-based beverage was fortified with protein (whey, faba bean) and fish oil, and overall liking and attribute perception (JAR) of two formulations were evaluated compared to the unfortified product by 60 healthy participants. Differences in sweetness and thickness perception were found among the products but overall liking of one of the formulations was not significantly different compared to the unfortified product. Additionally, perception of oats through a free-word association task revealed that patients’ perceptions of oat food products were related to oat-based food products and health benefits. Sensory acceptance and perceived health benefits of oats confirmed potential for their use in fortified and unfortified products for patients with cancer.
    A survey among 150 patients with cancer identified soup, yogurt, cheese, fruit juice, egg products and protein bars as suitable fortified snacks. Nutritious, flavorful, convenient, ready to eat, easy to chew and easy to swallow were desired characteristics of fortified snacks and vitamins, minerals and protein were nutrients of interest among the respondents. Three clusters of patients were identified according to symptom presence differing in their desired characteristics of fortified snacks and satisfaction with food-related life. Patients in the High symptom presence cluster were more likely to agree with fortification of ice cream bar and patients in High and Moderate symptom clusters were more likely to have reduced food intake and higher consumption of oral nutritional supplements.
    This study contributes to gaps in knowledge around food preferences among patients with cancer, particularly related to snacks and fortified products. This research can provide insight to guide the development of fortified snacks targeted to the nutritional, sensory and consumption needs of patients with cancer.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2020
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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