Cystic Fibrosis and Dietary Needs According to Age

It is important for parents, caregivers and patients to learn good nutrition habits and to understand the different dietary needs of people with CF at every age. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) recommends adjusting dietary needs according to age and overall weight and growth. During the early stages of life, dietary choices and habits can affect the rest of a child's life. It is also important for people with CF to maintain healthy nutrition habits as they become independent during the teen years and into adulthood.

Many people with CF also have a condition known as exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI ), in which they lack pancreatic enzymes necessary for proper food digestion. In particular, people with EPI due to CF have difficulty absorbing fats and nutrients provided by them. Therefore, key "fat-soluble" vitamins, including A, D, E and K, are not fully absorbed. People with CF usually take supplemental vitamins daily. Eating foods high in calcium, iron, sodium chloride and zinc, are also important for healthy nutrition. These essential minerals are also available as supplements.

For most children and people without CF, "nutritious snacks" are lower in fat and calories than is recommended for children and adults with CF. So, in addition to eating higher quantities of nutritious snacks, people with CF are often also advised to “pack in” more calories and fat to each serving. People with CF and caregivers should work with their dietitian to make sure proper nutritional needs are met.

Select an age range below to learn more

*These models are not cystic fibrosis patients.

The CFChef CF Nutrition Guide was developed with input from Registered Dietitian and CF Nutrition Specialist Suzanne Michel, MPH, RD, LDN, based on information and guidelines from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is not affiliated with, and has not endorsed, the AbbVie CFChef program. The content on is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.