, Volume 47, Issue 8, pp 872-882
Date: 15 Jun 2012

An update of the role of nutritional therapy in the management of Crohn’s disease

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Crohn’s disease is an increasingly global health concern. Currently without a cure, it significantly alters the quality of life of Crohn’s disease sufferers and places a heavy financial burden on the community. Recent reports show that the rising prevalence of Crohn’s disease is no longer confined to Western countries, with considerable increases seen particularly in Asia. Nutritional problems are often associated with Crohn’s disease, most notably in the paediatric population, with underweight and stunting commonly seen at presentation. In addition, linear growth retardation and pubertal delay can also manifest in these younger patients. Therefore, exclusive enteral nutrition has been used as a therapeutic option to treat Crohn’s disease, in part to address the nutritional complications of the disease. Exclusive enteral nutrition can improve nutrition as well as induce remission at a rate equivalent to corticosteroids. It is safe particularly with long-term use and can induce mucosal healing, considered the gold standard for therapy, at a rate superior to corticosteroids. Exclusive enteral nutrition has thus become the preferred therapeutic option in many centres for the treatment of paediatric Crohn’s disease. This review discusses the role of exclusive enteral nutrition as a therapeutic option for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, as well as the latest findings into its mechanisms of action.