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PLoS One. 2017 Sep 21;12(9):e0182096. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182096. eCollection 2017.

Lipid based nutrient supplements (LNS) for treatment of children (6 months to 59 months) with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM): A systematic review.

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Department of Pediatrics, SL Jain Hospital, Delhi, India.
Evidence and Programme Guidance, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Department of Pediatrics and Clinical Epidemiology, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, New Delhi, India.



Moderate acute malnutrition is a major public health problem affecting children from low- and middle-income countries. Lipid nutrient supplements have been proposed as a nutritional intervention for its treatment.


To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of LNS for the treatment of MAM in infants and children 6 to 59 months of age.


Systematic review of randomized-controlled trials and controlled before-after studies.


Data from nine trials showed that use of LNS, in comparison to specially formulated foods, improved the recovery rate (RR 1.08; 95% CI 1.02-1.14, 8 RCTs, 8934 participants, low quality evidence); decreased the chances of no recovery (RR 0.70; 95% CI 0.58-0.85, 7 RCTs, 8364 participants, low quality evidence) and the risk of deterioration into severe acute malnutrition (RR 0.87; 95% CI 0.73-1.03, 6 RCTs, 6788 participants, low quality evidence). There was little impact on mortality (RR 0.94, 95% CI 0.54-1.52, 8 RCTs, 8364 participants, very-low- quality evidence) or default rate (RR 1.32; 95% CI 0.73-2.4, 7 studies, 7570 participants, low quality evidence). There was improvement in weight gain, weight-for-height z-scores, height-for-age z-scores and mid-upper arm circumference. Subset analyses suggested higher recovery rates with greater amount of calories provided and with ready-to-use therapeutic foods, in comparison to ready-to-use supplementary foods. One study comparing LNS with nutritional counselling (very low quality evidence) showed higher chance of recovery, lower risk of deteriorating into severe acute malnutrition and lower default rate, with no impact on mortality, and no recovery.


Evidence restricted to the African regions suggests that LNS may be slightly more effective than specially formulated fortified foods or nutritional counselling in recovery from MAM, lowering the risk of deterioration into SAM, and improving weight gain with little impact on mortality or default rate.

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