Impacts of COVID-19 on Clinical Nutrition Needs
Nutrition has been a key topic during the COVID crisis—from using nutrition to bolster the immune system against COVID to supporting COVID patients during their hospital stays. On the clinical nutrition front, the influences of COVID have been multifaceted. Some of these factors are also expected to influence the clinical nutrition market in the post-pandemic period.
1. Hospitalization of COVID Patients
Clinical nutrition products have been essential for hospitalized COVID patients, who often have long stays of one to two weeks when on ventilation. Since those at risk for serious effects from COVID include the elderly, obese, and those with chronic diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, clinical nutrition must also address these condition-specific needs.
2. Management of Post-COVID Syndrome
Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, also called post-COVID syndrome or long COVID, is a group of health problems that can occur after COVID recovery. Post-COVID syndrome can include lingering heart inflammation and lung problems, long-term kidney damage, and possibly the development of type 2 diabetes. These problems can occur even among those with mild COVID symptoms.
3. Delayed Elective Surgeries
As hospitals and other healthcare facilities became inundated with COVID patients, shifting priorities led many facilities to postpone patients’ elective surgeries. Related factors included bed shortages, social distancing requirements, and a reduction in staff and staff hours. The decrease in elective surgeries during COVID affected the need for postoperative nutrition products.
4. Altered Eating Behaviors
Stress, social isolation, and shifts in daily routines during COVID lockdowns have led many people to adopt new, often unhealthy, eating patterns. This has ranged from more mindless snacking to eating more high-fat and high-sugar comfort foods, which can contribute to overweight/obesity and metabolic syndrome. Nutrition for satiety (with a focus on fiber and proteins) and bioactives for weight loss can help address this.