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J Nutr. 2019 Apr 9. pii: nxz037. doi: 10.1093/jn/nxz037. [Epub ahead of print]

Percent Fat Mass Increases with Recovery, But Does Not Vary According to Dietary Therapy in Young Malian Children Treated for Moderate Acute Malnutrition.

Author information

Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, CA.
Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA.
Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Bamako, Bamako, Mali.
Nutrition Section, UNICEF, New York, NY.
Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.
Departments of Nutrition, and Global Health and Population, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA.



Moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) affects 34.1 million children globally. Treatment effectiveness is generally determined by the amount and rate of weight gain. Body composition (BC) assessment provides more detailed information on nutritional stores and the type of tissue accrual than traditional weight measurements alone.


The aim of this study was to compare the change in percentage fat mass (%FM) and other BC parameters among young Malian children with MAM according to receipt of 1 of 4 dietary supplements, and recovery status at the end of the 12-wk intervention period.


BC was assessed using the deuterium oxide dilution method in a subgroup of 286 children aged 6-35 mo who participated in a 12-wk community-based, cluster-randomized effectiveness trial of 4 dietary supplements for the treatment of MAM: 1) lipid-based, ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF); 2) special corn-soy blend "plus plus" (CSB++); 3) locally processed, fortified flour (MI); or 4) locally milled flours plus oil, sugar, and micronutrient powder (LMF). Multivariate linear regression modeling was used to evaluate change in BC parameters by treatment group and recovery status.


Mean ± SD %FM at baseline was 28.6% ± 5.32%. Change in %FM did not vary between groups. Children who received RUSF vs. MI gained more (mean; 95% CI) weight (1.43; 1.13, 1.74 kg compared with 0.84; 0.66, 1.03 kg; P = 0.02), FM (0.70; 0.45, 0.96 kg compared with 0.20; 0.05, 0.36 kg; P = 0.01), and weight-for-length z score (1.23; 0.79, 1.54 compared with 0.49; 0.34, 0.71; P = 0.03). Children who recovered from MAM exhibited greater increases in all BC parameters, including %FM, than children who did not recover.


In this study population, children had higher than expected %FM at baseline. There were no differences in %FM change between groups. International BC reference data are needed to assess the utility of BC assessment in community-based management of acute malnutrition programs. This trial was registered at as NCT01015950.


Mali; acute malnutrition; anthropometry; body composition; child growth; supplementary feeding


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