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Bull World Health Organ. 1961;25:339-59.

The role of diet in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. An evaluation in a controlled chemotherapy study in home and sanatorium patients in South India.


Before the advent of antituberculosis chemotherapy, a diet rich in calories, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins was generally considered to be an important, if not essential, factor in the treatment of tuberculosis. The introduction of specific antituberculosis drugs, however, has so radically altered the management of the disease that the role of diet has to be reconsidered in the light of the recent advances in treatment. An evaluation of the influence of diet in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis with isoniazid plus p-aminosalicylic acid was recently undertaken by the Tuberculosis Chemotherapy Centre, Madras, in the course of a controlled comparison of home and sanatorium chemotherapy for tuberculous patients from a poverty-stricken community in Madras City. Despite the fact that during the year of treatment the home patients subsisted on a markedly poorer diet, were physically more active and, on the average, gained less weight than the sanatorium patients, the overall response to treatment in the home series closely approached that in the sanatorium series, although there was a tendency for tubercle bacilli to disappear earlier in the latter. Direct evidence has been presented that none of the dietary factors studied (calories, carbohydrates, total and animal proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins) appears to influence the attainment of quiescent disease among tuberculous patients treated for one year with an effective combination of antimicrobial drugs, and that initial chemotherapy of patients at home can be successful even if the dietary intake is low throughout the period of treatment.

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