Adequate nutrition is vital to a CF patient’s health. The goal of CF Care Centers is to have their patients achieve and maintain a body mass index (BMI) that is in the 50th percentile for national standards. Nutritionists and dietitians are a regular part of a CF Team Clinic. They are kept as up to date as possible with information about absorption issues, pancreatic insufficiency and ways to improve nutritional status.
The 2005 Patient Registry Report shows that teens and young adults (age 13-20) tend to fall below the 50th percentile benchmark for their age. Although this trend was noticeably improved between 1990 and 2005, that particular age group is still falling short of the national standards.
Adults with CF age 20-40 are expected to maintain a BMI of 22 (females) and 24 (males). Again, studies demonstrate that the closer a patient is to the target BMI, the more likely they are to have a higher FEV1. The data from 2005 shows that adults with adequate nutritional status are able to meet FEV1 predicted percentages of 60 or better.
Lung function decreases with age regardless of CF. The rate of decline is faster in people with CF because their lungs are continually ravages by infection. Although lung damage cannot be reversed, it can be slowed somewhat. The longer a person can keep their BMI and FEV1 in a good range, the more likely they are to have fewer complications or exacerbations. However, CF is so variable that there are no guarantees about such things. It is in every CF patient’s best interest to work hard at maintaining a proper BMI for their age and gender.