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Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep. 2013 Aug 24;1:280-291. eCollection 2013.

The Need for International Terminology and Definitions for Texture-Modified Foods and Thickened Liquids Used in Dysphagia Management: Foundations of a Global Initiative.


Conservative estimates suggest that dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) affects approximately 8 % of the world's population. Dysphagia is associated with malnutrition, dehydration, chest infection and potentially death. While promising treatments are being developed to improve function, the modification of food texture and liquid thickness has become a cornerstone of dysphagia management. Foods are chopped, mashed or puréed to compensate for chewing difficulties or fatigue, improve swallowing safety and avoid asphyxiation. Liquids are typically thickened to slow their speed of transit through the oral and pharyngeal phases of swallowing, to avoid aspiration of material into the airway and improve transit to the esophagus. Food texture and liquid modification for dysphagia management occurs throughout the world. However, the names, the number of levels of modification and characteristics vary within and across countries. Multiple labels increase the risk to patient safety. National standardization of terminology and definitions has been promoted as a means to improve patient safety and inter-professional communication. This article documents the need for international standardized terminology and definitions for texture-modified foods and liquids for individuals with dysphagia. Furthermore, it documents the research plan and foundations of a global initiative dedicated to this purpose.


Deglutition; Deglutition disorders; Diet; Dysphagia; Texture-modified food; Thickened liquids

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