Guiding treatment for eating disorders and dementia using masticatory efficiency

Many individuals experience reduced chewing efficiency, including those with eating disorders (EDs) and dementia - partially due to muscle atrophy. Despite this, chewing efficiency is overlooked by current healthcare services.

Chewing efficiency is directly linked to nutritional intake, physical wellbeing, and quality of life.

We are working with individuals with eating disorders or dementia, family members and/or carers, and healthcare professionals. We are doing co-design end-user workshops, tool development and a 6-month feasibility trial.

Our novel system allows users to easily quantify their chewing ability. Based on the results, users are provided with a set of physical therapy exercises and foods (classified by how mechanically challenging they are) recommended for improving muscle strength to increase chewing efficiency. Initial trials suggest a significant improvement following use of the tool and adherence to the rehabilitation plan.

Use of tools to prevent or delaying chewing deterioration can significantly improve users’ quality of life, whilst also easing psychological strain on family and carers.

People: Dawn Branley-Bell