Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is an evidence-based, individualized nutrition process meant to help treat certain medical conditions.
The term was introduced in 1994 by what is now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of registered dietician nutritionists (RDNs) and other credentialed food and nutrition professionals in the United States (1Trusted Source).
MNT is developed and implemented by an RDN with the approval of the patient’s doctor. MNT may be conducted in a hospital, in an outpatient clinic, or as part of a telehealth program.
This article reviews how medical nutrition therapy works and how it can aid some common medical conditions.
How medical nutrition therapy works
MNT is based on decades of medical research on the relationship between diet, nutrition, and health outcomes.
It’s vastly different from nutrition education, which provides basic nutrition information to the general public and isn’t intended to treat medical conditions.
On the other hand, MNT instructs individuals how to use their diet to best support their medical conditions. It not only addresses existing medical conditions but also attempts to lower the risk of new complications.
Steps and scope
To start this therapy, an RDN first performs a comprehensive nutrition assessment for an individual. They then develop a nutritional diagnosis, goal, and care plan, as well as specific nutrition interventions to help the person better manage or treat their condition (2Trusted Source).
The RDN provides repeated follow-up visits to support the person’s behavioral and lifestyle changes. This involves monitoring and evaluating progress, as well as any health or medication changes (2Trusted Source).
MNT is only provided by a qualified dietician and can either be prescribed in a hospital or outpatient setting. It may start during a hospital admission and continue into an outpatient setting, as long as the patient is seeing an RDN.
MNT can range in complexity, from designing a reduced calorie diet for weight loss to prescribing a high protein diet to promote wound healing for patients with severe burns.
In severe cases, such as for people with cancer, an RDN can recommend tube or intravenous (IV) feeding to prevent malnutrition.
The duration of MNT varies. Typically, the therapy stays in place until the initial goal is achieved or the nutrition-related diagnosis is resolved. However, the plan can be adjusted as needed by the RDN and your medical team.
SUMMARYMNT is an evidence-based nutrition therapy led by a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to help treat medical conditions. It occurs in a hospital or outpatient setting and involves a comprehensive assessment, nutritional diagnosis, and treatment plan.