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Nutrition Education Increases Diet Quality

Jill Hamilton-Reeves, PhD

October 07, 2019

Simplifying nutrition messages is critically important when navigating the complex care of cancer treatments. Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center tested a measurement of how well breast cancer survivors understand the key nutrition concepts before and after receiving nutrition education for weight loss. They discovered that participants improved their nutrition literacy, especially with portion sizing. As understanding increased, diet quality also increased. Current work is exploring methods to improve nutrition literacy in populations and how to implement these methods in clinical settings.

What cancer survivors can do now: Consulting with a dietitian, preferably with credentialing as a certified specialist in oncology, will help troubleshoot nutrition and feeding issues that arise during cancer treatment. Share your nutrition information with your care team, and ask for a consultation with a dietitian to develop a diet plan.

Technology improves communication

Communication tools have never been so widely accessible, and healthcare teams and patients are harnessing this capability with novel and creative ways to manage cancer care remotely.

Supporting the goal of enhancing patients’ nutritional education, researchers at The University of Kansas Cancer Center have sought to use technologies for improved and eased communication with patients. Two studies funded by the cancer center involve a technology-based communication tool between health professionals and patients:

  • The University of Kansas Cancer Center's Brantley Thrasher, MD, and I integrated the use of a phone application and wearable accelerometer in a weight loss intervention for overweight prostate cancer patients. Diet and activity tracking in the application allowed for personalized coaching and efficient dialogue.
  • Additionally, urologist Eugene Lee, MD, and his colleagues are currently testing the impact using a tablet-based application to allow earlier detection and intervention for malnutrition and feeding issues to improve patient outcomes following cystectomy.

What cancer survivors can do now: Good communication is key regardless of technology and platform. For the best care possible, share nutrition concerns with your healthcare team, and ask for help.

The take-home message

Maintaining or adopting a healthy lifestyle is highly recommended to help prevent and treat cancer, and our experts are always striving to identify innovative cancer-fighting nutrition strategies. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, reach out to us for help. Cancer care can be very complex, but feeding yourself or a loved one can be simplified by a nutrition professional. Providing good nutrition can help families come together to help fuel a patient before, during and after cancer treatment.

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