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Keywords:

  • Ketogenic diet;
  • Epilepsy;
  • International;
  • Seizures;
  • Children

Summary: Purpose: Over the past decade, the use of the ketogenic diet internationally has increased dramatically. The purpose of this survey was to evaluate the use of the diet worldwide.

Methods: With the use of the Internet, e-mail requests for information about international ketogenic diet centers (outside the United States) were made over a 9-month period. Assistance also was obtained from the Child Neurology Society and International League Against Epilepsy. Questions included patient enrollment (total and annually), year the diet was first offered, unique cultural and religious issues in the country, community opinion, and research interests.

Results: Successful communication was made with 73 academic centers in 41 countries outside the United States. Sixteen (39%) countries provided information from multiple centers. The median duration offering the diet was 8 years (range, 1–45 years). The average number of patients enrolled to date was 71.6 per country, with 5.4 new patients annually. Common difficulties included avoiding rice intake, tolerating higher fat-to-protein and carbohydrate ratios (e.g., 4:1), finding specific nutritional labels on foods, and handling the growing interest from large populations with limited resources. Nevertheless, cultural and religious issues were generally not limiting; physician and patient acceptance of the diet as an option is high; and most meals were similar among countries. Centers often had great pride in their programs, and international collaborative groups are forming rapidly. A website is now available with updated center information at http://www.neuro.jhmi.edu/Epilepsy/Peds/ketoworldwide.htm

Conclusions: Despite occasional difficulties, the ketogenic diet is being used worldwide.