Let g ≥ 2 be an integer and let (u n ) n≥1 be a sequence of integers which satisfies a relation u n+1 = h(n)u n for a rational function h(X). For example, various combinatorial numbers as well as their products satisfy relations of this type. Here, we show that under some mild technical assumptions the number of nonzero digits of u n in base g is large on a set of n of asymptotic density 1. We also extend this result to a class of sequences satisfying relations of second order u n+2 = h1(n)u n+1 + h2(n)u n with two nonconstant rational functions h1(X), h2(X)ϵ Q [X]. This class includes the Apéry, Delannoy, Motzkin, and Schröder numbers.