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Food Nutr Bull. 2009 Sep;30(3 Suppl):S434-63.

Current and potential role of specially formulated foods and food supplements for preventing malnutrition among 6- to 23-month-old children and for treating moderate malnutrition among 6- to 59-month-old children.

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Policy, Strategy and Programme Support Division, World Food Programme, Via Cesare Giulio, 68/70 Parco de'Medici, Rome 00148, Italy.


Reducing child malnutrition requires nutritious food, breastfeeding, improved hygiene, health services, and (prenatal) care. Poverty and food insecurity seriously constrain the accessibility of nutritious diets that have high protein quality, adequate micronutrient content and bioavailability, macrominerals and essential fatty acids, low antinutrient content, and high nutrient density. Diets based largely on plant sources with few animal-source and fortified foods do not meet these requirements and need to be improved by processing (dehulling, germinating, fermenting), fortification, and adding animal-source foods, e.g., milk, or other specific nutrients. Options include using specially formulated foods (fortified blended foods, commercial infant cereals, or ready-to-use foods [RUFs; pastes, compressed bars, or biscuits]) or complementary food supplements (micronutrient powders or powdered complementary food supplements containing micronutrients, protein, amino acids, and/or enzymes or lipid-based nutrient supplements (120 to 250 kcal/day), typically containing milk powder, high-quality vegetable oil, peanut paste, sugar, and micronutrients. Most supplementary feeding programs for moderately malnourished children supply fortified blended foods, such as corn-soy blend, with oil and sugar, which have shortcomings, including too many antinutrients, no milk (important for growth), suboptimal micronutrient content, high bulk, and high viscosity. Thus, for feeding young or malnourished children, fortified blended foods need to be improved or replaced. Based on success with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) for treating severe acute malnutrition, modifying these recipes is also considered. Commodities for reducing child malnutrition should be chosen on the basis of nutritional needs, program circumstances, availability of commodities, and likelihood of impact. Data are urgently required to compare the impact of new or modified commodities with that of current fortified blended foods and of RUTF developed for treating severe acute malnutrition.

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