The Important Role of Carbohydrates in the Flavor, Function, and Formulation of Oral Nutritional Supplements

Publish Date: June 2018
Author(s): Smaro Kokkinidou, Devin G. Peterson, Tama Bloch, Ashley Bronston


Patients who are malnourished or at risk for malnutrition often benefit from the consumption of oral nutritional supplements (ONS). ONS supply a range of micro- and macro-nutrients, and they can be used to supplement a diet or provide total nutrition. Since ONS are specially formulated products, all ONS ingredients—including carbohydrates—are added ingredients. This may seem to be at odds with the growing public health discourse on the need to reduce “added sugars” in the diet. However, carbohydrate is an essential nutrient for human health and is a critical ingredient in ONS. Helping to educate patients on the value of “added sugars” in ONS may be useful to improve compliance with nutritional recommendations when ONS are indicated. This perspective paper reviews the important roles of “added sugars” in ONS, in terms of flavor, function, and product formulation.

Author Bios


Smaro Kokkinidou, MS, PhD

FONA International Geneva, IL, USA

Smaro Kokkinidou is a Senior Research and Innovation Scientist at FONA International. Her primary focus on taste modification and product reformulation solution. Prior to joining FONA, Smaro was the Associate Director at The Ohio State University’s Flavor Research and Education Center, where she focused on better understanding food ingredient interactions for process and formulation optimization, as well as molecular discovery, and characterization of taste active and modifying substances. She is the author of numerous scientific publications and has an extensive analytical and research background. Smaro obtained a BS in Chemistry from the University of Crete, a MS in Food Science with focus in Food Chemistry and Toxicology from Pennsylvania State University, and a PhD in Food Science from the University of Minnesota with a focus in Flavor Chemistry.

Devin G. Peterson

Flavor Research and Education Center, The Ohio State University Columbus, OH, USA

Devin Peterson is a Professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at The Ohio State University.  He earned a doctoral degree in Flavor Chemistry (2001) at the University of Minnesota.  In 2001 he joined the faculty in the Department of Food Science at Penn State University. During his tenure at Penn State, in 2004 he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) that is presented by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In 2009, he returned to the University of Minnesota as an Associate Professor and was promoted to Professor in 2014. In 2016, he relocated his research program to The Ohio State University as part of the Discovery Themes Initiative.  He received the Excellence in Flavor Science Award from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association in 2015 and the IFT Stephen Change Award for Lipid and Flavor Science in 2018.  His research efforts focus on characterizing chemical stimuli that impart flavor to foodstuffs (taste, aroma, somatosensory), investigating multi-flavor interactions on perception, mapping pathways of flavor generation/stability and mechanisms of flavor delivery.  His program is based on a utility inspired fundamental research platform with an overarching goal to get more from nature, guided by science, to support the development of sustainable, nutritious, and healthy foods with higher product acceptability. He directs the Flavor Research and Education Center (, a partnership between academic researchers and industry leaders focused on the creation, exchange, and application of knowledge to drive innovation in the food marketspace.

Tama Bloch, RD

Research Scientist Abbott Nutrition Columbus, OH, USA

Tama is a registered dietitian and was a research scientist in Scientific and Medical Affairs Department at Abbott Nutrition. Although in the past 23 years she has covered both adult and pediatric brands at Abbott Nutrition, she has practiced dietetics for almost 40 years and included experiences as a clinical dietitian and a product development scientist. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Ohio Dietetic Association, and has a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from Bowling Green State University. She resides in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband Gary and their dog, Calvin.

Ashley Bronston, MS, RD, LD

Independent Nutrition Consultant Abbott Nutrition Columbus, OH, USA

Ashley Bronston, MS, RDN, LD is an Independent Nutrition Consultant for Abbott Nutrition and works within their Public Policy and Health Programming Department. She collaborates with third party organizations to achieve a greater focus on malnutrition screening, assessment, diagnosis and intervention among older adults. In 2017, Ashley received the Innovators Achievement Award from the International Council on Active Aging for developing and pilot testing a nutrition-based falls prevention class for older adults. She also works to develop nutrition-focused continuing education programs for healthcare professionals through the Abbott Nutrition Health Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in Medical Dietetics through The Ohio State University and a dual major Bachelor’s degree from Mansfield University in Dietetics and Sports Nutrition. While at OSU, she obtained training in an advanced interdisciplinary leadership program, focused primarily on health promotion, prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and follow up care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. During her spare time, Ashley serves on the ASPEN Education and Professional Development Committee, the Ohio Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Newsletter & Social Media Committee, the Columbus Dietetic Association Board, and as an Editor for the Academy’s Healthy Aging Dietetic Practice Group’s Newsletter.
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