Quadram Institute scientists support Big C Nourish & Nurture Programme

23rd June 2022

Food scientists at the Quadram Institute are supporting Big C’s new 12-week patient-centred nutrition and wellness intervention programme for individuals living with cancer.

The Quadram Institute on Norwich Research Park is home to the UK’s National Capability for food data and to leading scientists who research the links between human health and nutrition. Quadram Institute food scientists have provided healthy recipes and nutritional information on plant-based diets for the Big C programme.

The ‘Nourish & Nurture’ programme, funded by a £49,752 grant from NHS Charities Together, focuses on well-rounded, evidence based, holistic care, including education on healthy eating, 1:1 support, gentle physical activity and nutrition myth busting sessions.

Quadram Institute group leader Dr Maria Traka said: “We are delighted to be supporting Big C’s exciting new holistic programme for cancer patients. Healthy eating helps improves health and wellbeing well beyond just meeting our energy needs. Cancer and cancer treatment can have serious effects on people’s appetite, and we are very pleased to be working with Big C to offer healthy and balanced recipes and reliable nutritional information about plant-based diets.”

The team at Big C also works closely with oncology dieticians from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). Sessions will cover a wide range of topics, from healthy eating and cookery demonstrations to wellbeing health walks and nutrition myth busting.

Dr Melanie Pascale, Director of Charitable Operations at Big C said: “I believe this is the first complete 360 holistic care package for patients following a cancer diagnosis, designed to complement and run alongside their clinical care. Small group sessions will enhance empathetic peer support, facilitated by experienced cancer specialist nurses, dieticians, nutritionists and physical activity coaches. A healthy and well-balanced diet that provides adequate nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment. Correct nutrition provides patients with the ability to recover between cancer treatments and as a result, has the potential to improve their clinical outcomes and quality of life.”

The prevalence of malnutrition among patients with cancer, especially patients receiving some types of chemotherapy is high and presents a significant public health burden. Stage of cancer, appetite loss and presence of side effects such as diarrhoea are significant factors for malnutrition. Furthermore, malnutrition and lean muscle wastage is a common problem among patients with cancer, potentially affecting up to 85% of patients with certain cancer types. Malnutrition occurs when a person doesn’t get enough food or the right type of food, or experiences absorption issues. Inadequate dietary intake and reduced physical activity can lead to malnutrition and remains a common challenge due to the many factors which may lead to the issue.

Regardless of cancer type, the overall prevalence of malnutrition in patients at time of diagnosis can be up to 60% and can be over 80% during treatment. Cancer treatment can be impeded by the frequent development of malnutrition and metabolic derangements in patients with cancer, induced by the cancer itself, or by its treatment. Malnutrition can influence the effectiveness and response to the cancer treatment, recovery time during treatments, prognosis, continued compliance with treatment and overall quality of life. It can increase the time spent in hospital and the risk of infection. Malnutrition also has the potential to reduce the survival rate.

Aims and Benefits

Some of the many aims and benefits of this intervention will be to help patients better tolerate treatments, maintain strength and minimise treatment related side effects and protect immune function decreasing the risk of infection.

One of the most important aspects of the intervention, is to help the patient regain a sense of control in what can be a very uncertain time.

Up to 80% of patients diagnosed with cancer could benefit from this type of intervention, improving quality of life and clinical outcomes with less pausing of essential treatment due to the uncontrolled side effects. The programme also aims to support the NHS by reducing the risk of infections and lessen severe side effects resulting in re-admission.

  • If you are interested in taking part in Big C’s Nourish & Nurture programme, please contact the charity on 0800 092 7640 or email: support@big-c.co.uk

Related Targets

Targeting food composition

Food Composition

Related Research Groups

Maria Traka