Special low protein foods in the UK: An examination of their macronutrient composition in comparison to regular foods

Georgina Wood, Sharon Evans, Kiri Pointon-Bell, Júlio César Rocha, Anita Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


Special low protein foods (SLPFs) are essential in a low phenylalanine diet for treating phenylketonuria (PKU). With little known about their nutritional composition, all SLPFs on UK prescription were studied (n = 146) and compared to equivalent protein-containing foods (n = 190). SLPF nutritional analysis was obtained from suppliers/manufacturers. Comparable information about regular protein-containing foods was obtained from online UK supermarkets. Similar foods were grouped together, with mean nutritional values calculated for each subgroup (n = 40) and percentage differences determined between SLPFs and regular food subgroups. All SLPF subgroups contained 43–100% less protein than regular foods. Sixty-three percent (n = 25/40) of SLPF subgroups contained less total fat with palm oil (25%, n = 36/146) and hydrogenated vegetable oil (23%, n = 33/146) key fat sources. Sixty-eight percent (n = 27/40) of SLPF subgroups contained more carbohydrate, with 72% (n = 105/146) containing added sugar. Key SLPF starch sources were maize/corn (72%; n = 105/146). Seventy-seven percent (n = 113/146) of SLPFs versus 18% (n = 34/190) of regular foods contained added fibre, predominantly hydrocolloids. Nine percent of SLPFs contained phenylalanine >25 mg/100 g and sources of phenylalanine/protein in their ingredient lists. Stricter nutritional composition regulations for SLPFs are required, identifying maximum upper limits for macronutrients and phenylalanine, and fat and carbohydrate sources that are associated with healthy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1893
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Macronutrients
  • Nutritional composition
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Special low protein foods
  • UK


Dive into the research topics of 'Special low protein foods in the UK: An examination of their macronutrient composition in comparison to regular foods'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this