Critically ill patients face a host of challenges during their stay in intensive care units, with nutritional support being a significant factor influencing their recovery and outcomes. A recent study published in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN examined the impact of different enteral nutrition formulas on feeding intolerance among these vulnerable patients. The researchers specifically explored the relationship between whey peptide-based enteral nutrition and gastrointestinal intolerance and hyperglycemia, producing insights that could guide clinical practice.

The study, “Characteristics and feeding intolerance in critically ill adult patients receiving peptide-based enteral nutrition,” offers valuable information on how different nutritional formulas correlate with patients’ ability to tolerate enteral feeding. As such, this article aims to delve into the study’s findings and discuss their relevance to patient care.

Study Overview

Published on January 16, 2024, with DOI: 10.1016/j.clnesp.2023.12.007, the study reviewed a sample of 19,679 inpatients across 67 U.S. hospitals who required at least three days of enteral nutrition (EN). The cross-sectional study design used retrospective data from the PINC AI™ Healthcare Database, spanning from 2015 to 2019. The analysis focused on critically ill hospitalized adults who received either 100% whey peptide-based EN, other peptide-based diets, or standard intact-protein EN formulas, including those tailored for diabetic patients.

Primary outcomes were centered on enteral feeding intolerance, defined here as gastrointestinal (GI) intolerance, such as nausea, vomiting, and gastroparesis, and cases of hyperglycemia, given its prevalence as a form of glucose intolerance in critically ill adults.

Key Findings and Implications

Results revealed that patients receiving 100% whey-peptide-based formulas exhibited lower instances of GI intolerance and better glycemic control compared to those on other peptide-based or standard intact-protein formulas. Specifically, the study reported 18% higher odds of GI intolerance in the non-whey peptide-based group and 15% higher odds in the standard intact-protein group. Additionally, a secondary analysis showed that the odds of hyperglycemia were 81% higher for patients not on the very high-protein/low carbohydrate 100% whey-peptide formula.

These findings suggest a clear connection between the type of peptide formulation and feeding tolerance outcomes for critically ill patients. Hospital length of stay, ICU duration, and 30-day readmission rates did not significantly differ across the groups, indicating that the benefits of whey peptide-based formulas could focus more closely on feeding tolerance without impacting these broader measures.

Clinical Impact

The clinical implications of these observations carry weight in terms of how medical practitioners approach nutritional support for critically ill patients. With EN playing a crucial role in patient care, selecting an optimal nutritional formula becomes a key decision for healthcare providers. This study suggests that 100% whey-peptide-based enteral nutrition could offer an advantage in minimizing GI distress and maintaining better blood glucose levels, potentially leading to more stable conditions for patients during a critical care episode.

Authors and Acknowledgment

The study was penned by a team of researchers and healthcare professionals. Leading the study was Douglas L. Nguyen of Loma Linda University Medical Center. The team also included Laura L. Schott, Zhun Cao, and Dorothy L. Baumer from PINC AI™ Applied Sciences at Premier Inc.; as well as Cynthia C. Lowen, Amarsinh M. Desai, Mary K. Miranowski, and Krysmaru Araujo Torres from Nestlé Health Science.

The declaration of competing interests accompanying the publication mentions professional associations with Nestlé Health Science, outlining the transparency of the research and potential implications for consideration.


This section of the article enlists the core references and citations relevant to the study and additional literature on enteral nutrition and critical care.
1. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. (2024). “Characteristics and feeding intolerance in critically ill adult patients receiving peptide-based enteral nutrition: A retrospective cross-sectional study,”
2. Additional references, reflecting on findings within this study and broader research in the field, are to be referred to by those keen on exploring further details.


1. Enteral nutrition critical care
2. Peptide-based feeding intolerance
3. Whey peptide enteral feeding
4. Gastrointestinal tolerance in ICU
5. Hyperglycemia nutritional support

In conclusion, this study sheds light on the advantages of 100% whey-peptide-based enteral nutrition formulas in critically ill patients, potentially guiding healthier outcomes through improved feeding tolerance. As nutritional support remains a cornerstone in the management of critically ill patients, continuous research and advancements in EN formulations will be essential in enhancing patient care practices in ICUs worldwide.