Comparison of the nutritional composition of diets of persons with fecal incontinence and that of age- and gender-matched controls

Donna Z Bliss, Jennifer McLaughlin, Hans Joachim Jung, Ann C Lowry, Kay Savik, Linda Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: In our clinical and research experience, persons with fecal incontinence anecdotally report altered diet intake to avoid incontinence. The purpose of this study was to compare the dietary intake of 39 persons with fecal incontinence living in the community with that of age- and gender-matched control subjects who had normal bowel function. The diets of both groups were compared with recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for their constituent nutrients. Methods: Subjects prospectively recorded the type, amount, and method of preparing all foods and beverages ingested for 8 consecutive days. Diet records were analyzed using the Nutritionist IV software program. Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures were the amounts and percentage of the RDAs of macronutrients and micronutrients in the subjects' diets. Results: There were no significant differences in the intake of total kilocalories, protein, fat, dietary fiber, caffeine, or lactose by the fecal incontinence and control groups. The fecal incontinence group had a greater intake of carbohydrates, manganese, and vitamin B1 compared with the control group. Diets of both groups exceeded 100% of the RDA for protein, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium. Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B12, and C and folate. Diets of both groups had less than 50% of the RDA for biotin, chromium, copper, and manganese but did not differ significantly. The percentages of the RDA for calcium and vitamin D were 84% ± 6% and 56% ± 8% for the fecal incontinence group and 90 ± 8 (P = .6) and 69 ± 11 for the control group (P = .4). Conclusions: The diets of persons with fecal incontinence were similar to those of control subjects with normal bowel function. Both the fecal incontinence and control groups may improve their nutritional patterns by lowering sodium and protein intake and increasing dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat intake. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation may improve dietary deficiencies and lower disease risks. Including a nutritional assessment and consultation in the care of persons with fecal incontinence to improve their general health and prevent disease is recommended, but consideration must be given to altered diet patterns perceived by the patient to prevent fecal incontinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funded in part by grant NR040 23 015 I, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institutes of Health, American Federation for Aging Research, and University of Minnesota Grant-in-Aid of Research Program and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.


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