Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Tidwell, K. Diane

Committee Member

Briley, A. Chiquita

Committee Member

Mixon, Melissa

Committee Member

Worthy, L. Sheri

Committee Member

Dodson, L. Wanda

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion


The population of elderly people in the United States is predicted to increase in large numbers within the next few decades. Many of them will be admitted to long-term-care centers in the waning years of their lives. Health care professionals will need to be prepared for this influx of the elderly into these institutions and for their demands of improved quality of life in these centers. Unplanned weight loss has become one of the major predictors of mortality in long-term-care residents. The purpose of the study was to compare the use of liberalized diets with the traditional therapeutic diets long advocated in long-term-care facilities in the United States. The objectives were to conduct a randomized clinical trial with a treatment group (subjects who consumed liberalized diets) and a control group (subjects who continued with their usual therapeutic diets), and to compare outcomes between the two groups. The randomized clinical trial was conducted for 18 weeks from April to August 2009 at a long-term-care facility in rural North Mississippi. Twenty-two persons ranging in age from 54 to 100 years were approved by their physicians for participation in the trial. All of these persons participated and completed the trial. Eleven of the participants received their prescribed therapeutic diet and 11 participants received a liberalized diet for the length of the trial study. At the end of the study, there were no significant differences (p>0.05) in mean body weights and laboratory values between the two groups. However, there was a trend of weight loss in the therapeutic diet group (mean weight loss of 2% (1.4 kg) during the 18-week trial), and although it was not significant (p>0.05), this supports the growing belief of those who advocate liberalized geriatric diets to improve quality of life and prevent unintentional weight loss. Participants in the liberalized diet group did not experience weight loss and gained 0.5 kg by the end of the study.