A.S.P.E.N. Response to Forced Tube Feeding Images in the Media

August 2, 2013


A.S.P.E.N. Response to Forced Tube Feeding Images in the Media


The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) would like to address the recent articles and videos that confuse forced tube feedings with tube feedings given with consent to provide patients with the nutrition they need. The information and images presented to the public lead to misunderstandings about tube feeding, which is a life-saving treatment for individuals unable to eat by mouth. Tube feeding is the provision of nutrition through a tube into the stomach or intestines.  

A.S.P.E.N. has provided the facts on tube feeding to clarify any confusion that the public may have:  

  • Tube feeding is safe and beneficial in the right circumstances.  Patients who cannot eat by mouth, and who have working stomach and intestines, are candidates for tube feeding. 
  • Before beginning tube feeding, clinicians should consider ethical, religious and cultural beliefs of the patient and family. The risks and benefits of tube feeding, as well as how it will affect that particular patient, should be discussed with the patient and family.  
  • Tube feeding is not and should never be misconstrued as torture. If properly performed, and if the patient is cooperative, insertion of a feeding tube may be uncomfortable, but never painful.
  • Many patients insert their own tubes at home each day. Parents of pediatric patients also insert feeding tubes at home, as a part of routine care.


With nearly 6000 members from around the world, A.S.P.E.N. is a community of dietitians, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, scientists, students and other health professionals from every facet of nutrition support clinical practice, research and education. Our interdisciplinary membership is involved in delivering safe and effective clinical nutrition therapies, including parenteral and enteral nutrition. A.S.P.E.N. is dedicated to improving patient care by advancing the science and practice of clinical nutrition and metabolism. For additional information and resources related to tube feeding, please refer to www.nutritioncare.org .