An examination of dietary intakes and nutritional status of chronic healthy spinal cord injured individuals

Alan M. Levine, Mark S. Nash, Barth A. Green, J. Darrell Shea, Michael J. Aronica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


To examine the nutritional composition of the dietary intake of chronic healthy spinal cord injured (SCI) individuals, 33 subjects affiliated with 3 SCI rehabilitation centers logged their food consumption for 7 days. Prior to record keeping, subjects were trained by a registered dietitian on the accurate recording of their standard food choices and portion size, and were provided with scales to weigh food accurately. Dietary macro and micronutrients were analysed with a computer software package, with nutritional analysis compared to the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Analysis showed caloric intake to be 75% of that recommended for able bodied persons, with a high reliance on fat for calories. Fat intake accounted for 37.9% of calories, well above the recommended level of 30%, but typical of the American diet. The ratio of polyunsaturated to saturated fat was approximately one half the recommended level, with carbohydrate calories averaging 16.5% below optimal RDA. Protein consumption was within normal range, but average dietary fiber was only 25% of recommended levels. Micronutrient analysis showed deficiencies in both water and fat-soluble vitamins, with suboptimal intake of multiple minerals. Given the apparent reliance on a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet, this research shows that nutritional intervention and education of SCI persons are needed, and that a registered dietitian should be included in the SCI health care team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)880-889
Number of pages10
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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