Food fortification as part of the food-first approach in nursing homes is a strategy that may increase energy and protein intake.
This review aimed to determine the effect of nutrition interventions using fortification, nutrient-dense or enriched food and/or drinks on energy and protein intake in residents living in nursing homes, compared to the standard menu with or without oral nutritional support products. The secondary aim was to identify and synthesise outcomes of these interventions on weight change, nutritional status, acceptability, cost-effectiveness, and cost-benefit.
A systematic search of seven databases was undertaken. After reviewing all titles/abstracts then full-text papers, key data were extracted and synthesised narratively and through meta-analysis. The quality of included studies was assessed using the Quality Criteria Checklist for Primary Research.
Of 3,098 articles retrieved, 16 were included, 13 in the meta-analysis. There were 891 participants, with the study duration ranging from four to 26 weeks. The groups receiving the fortified diet had a significantly higher energy intake (Hedges’ g = 0.69 (CI 0.36-1.03), p < 0.0001) and protein intake (Hedges' g = 0.46 (CI 0.17-0.74), p = 0.003) compared with the groups receiving the standard menu +/- ONS. The meta-analysis revealed I values of 77% for energy (p < 0.0001) and 60% for protein (p = 0.003), indicating considerable statistical heterogeneity across included studies. Benefits to weight and nutritional status of residents were recorded in some studies. Where reported, cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of menu fortification/supplementation were variable.
This systematic review with meta-analyses has shown that fortified menus may significantly increase energy and protein intakes compared with standard menus in nursing homes. As such, the findings of this review support further use of fortified diets in this setting. Further research is warranted comparing food fortification to standard menus, with a particular focus on evaluating the effect on weight, nutritional status and cost-effectiveness of the intervention.
PROSPERO no. CRD42020162796.

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