evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

Posts Tagged ‘ready-to-use food’

Considerations in developing lipid-based nutrient supplements for prevention of undernutrition: experience from the International Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements (iLiNS) Project

In Under-nutrition on May 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm

by Arimond M, Zeilani M, Jungjohann S, Brown KH, Ashorn P, Allen LH, Dewey KG.

Matern Child Nutr. 2013 May 6.


The International Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements (iLiNS) Project began in 2009 with the goal of contributing to the evidence base regarding the potential of lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) to prevent undernutrition in vulnerable populations. The first project objective was the development of acceptable LNS products for infants 6-24 months and for pregnant and lactating women, for use in studies in three countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana and Malawi). This paper shares the rationale for a series of decisions in supplement formulation and design, including those related to ration size, ingredients, nutrient content, safety and quality, and packaging. Most iLiNS supplements have a daily ration size of 20 g and are intended for home fortification of local diets. For infants, this ration size is designed to avoid displacement of breast milk and to allow for dietary diversity including any locally available and accessible nutrient-dense foods. Selection of ingredients depends on acceptability of flavour, micronutrient, anti-nutrient and essential fatty acid contents. The nutrient content of LNS designed to prevent undernutrition reflects the likelihood that in many resource-poor settings, diets of the most nutritionally vulnerable individuals (infants, young children, and pregnant and lactating women) are likely to be deficient in multiple micronutrients and, possibly, in essential fatty acids. During ingredient procurement and LNS production, safety and quality control procedures are required to prevent contamination with toxins or pathogens and to ensure that the product remains stable and palatable over time. Packaging design decisions must include consideration of product protection, stability, convenience and portion control.

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Lipid-based, ready-to-use foods to fight undernutrition: the state of the art (UCDAVIS)

In Under-nutrition on October 16, 2012 at 8:10 am

Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements: How Can They Combat Child Malnutrition?

Kathryn G. Dewey, Mary Arimond

PLOS Medicine  September 18, 2012

This paper (download entirely) is particularly relevant for anybody interested in the current knowledge achievements and gaps about management of undernutrition with lipid-based, ready-to-use foods.

The same paper offers also an updated list of references on this topic.

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Development of a crossover-randomized trial method to determine the acceptability and safety of novel ready-to-use therapeutic foods (ahead of print)

In Under-nutrition on September 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm

by Dibari F, Bahwere P, Huerga H, Irena AH, Owino V, Collins S, Seal A.

Nutrition (article in press).


Objective: To develop a method for determining the acceptability and safety of ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF) before clinical trialing. Acceptability was defined using a combination of three consumption, nine safety, and six preference criteria. These were used to compare a soy/maize/sorghum RUTF (SMS-RUTFh), designed for the rehabilitation of human immunodeficiency virus/tuberculosis (HIV/TB) wasted adults, with a peanut-butter/milk-powder paste (P-RUTF; brand: Plumpy’nut) designed for pediatric treatment.

Methods: A cross-over, randomized, controlled trial was conducted in Kenya. Ten days of repeated measures of product intake by 41 HIV/TB patients, >18 y old, body mass index (BMI) 18-24 kg/m^2, 250 g were offered daily under direct observation as a replacement lunch meal. Consumption, comorbidity, and preferences were recorded.

Results: The study arms had similar age, sex, marital status, initial BMI, and middle upper-arm circumference. No carryover effect or serious adverse events were found. SMS-RUTFh energy intake was not statistically different from the control, when adjusted for BMI on day 1, and the presence of throat sores. General preference, taste, and sweetness scores were higher for SMS-RUTFh compared to the control (P < 0.05). Most consumption, safety, and preference criteria for SMS-RUTFh were satisfied except for the average number of days of nausea (0.16 versus 0.09 d) and vomiting (0.04 versus 0.02 d), which occurred with a higher frequency (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: SMS-RUTFh appears to be acceptable and can be safely clinically trialed, if close monitoring of vomiting and nausea is included. The method reported here is a useful and feasible approach for testing the acceptability of ready-to-use foods in low income countries.

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Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) improves undernutrition among ART-treated, HIV-positive children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In Under-nutrition on September 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Bruno F Sunguya, Krishna C Poudel, Linda B Mlunde, Keiko Otsuka, Junko Yasuoka, David P Urassa, Namala P Mkopi and Masamine Jimba

Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:60 

(entire doc)



HIV/AIDS is associated with an increased burden of undernutrition among children even under antiretroviral therapy (ART). To treat undernutrition, WHO endorsed the use of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) that can reduce case fatality and undernutrition among ART-naive HIV-positive children. However, its effects are not studied among ART-treated, HIV-positive children. Therefore, we examined the association between RUTF use with underweight, wasting, and stunting statuses among ART-treated HIV-positive children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.


This cross-sectional study was conducted from September-October 2010. The target population was 219 ART-treated, HIV-positive children and the same number of their caregivers. We used questionnaires to measure socio-economic factors, food security, RUTF-use, and ART-duration. Our outcome variables were underweight, wasting, and stunting statuses.


Of 219 ART-treated, HIV-positive children, 140 (63.9%) had received RUTF intervention prior to the interview. The percentages of underweight and wasting among non-RUTF-receivers were 12.4% and 16.5%; whereas those of RUTF-receivers were 3.0% (P = 0.006) and 2.8% (P = 0.001), respectively. RUTF-receivers were less likely to have underweight (Adjusted Odd Ratio (AOR) =0.19, CI: 0.04, 0.78), and wasting (AOR = 0.24, CI: 0.07, 0.81), compared to non RUTF-receivers. Among RUTF receivers, children treated for at least four months (n = 84) were less likely to have underweight (P = 0.049), wasting (P = 0.049) and stunting (P < 0.001).


Among HIV-positive children under ART, the provision of RUTF for at least four months was associated with low proportions of undernutrition status. RUTF has a potential to improve undernutrition among HIV-positive children under ART in the clinical settings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

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An evaluation of an operations research project to reduce childhood stunting in a food-insecure area in Ethiopia

In Under-nutrition on August 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm

by Bridget Fenn, Assaye T Bulti, Themba Nduna, Arabella Duffield and Fiona Watson

Public Health Nutrition / Volume 15 / Issue 09 / September 2012 , pp 1746-1754


Objective To determine which interventions can reduce linear growth retardation (stunting) in children aged 6–36 months over a 5-year period in a food-insecure population in Ethiopia.

Design We used data collected through an operations research project run by Save the Children UK: the Child Caring Practices (CCP) project. Eleven neighbouring villages were purposefully selected to receive one of four interventions: (i) health; (iii) nutrition education; (iii) water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); or (iv) integrated comprising all interventions. A comparison group of three villages did not receive any interventions. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted at baseline (2004) and for impact evaluation (2009) using the same quantitative and qualitative tools. The primary outcome was stunted growth in children aged 6–36 months measured as height (or length)-for-age Z-scores (mean and prevalence). Secondary outcomes were knowledge of health seeking, infant and young child feeding and preventive practices.

Setting Amhara, Ethiopia.

Subjects Children aged 6–36 months.

Results The WASH intervention group was the only group to show a significant increase in mean height-for-age Z-score (+0·33, P = 0·02), with a 12·1 % decrease in the prevalence of stunting, compared with the baseline group. This group also showed significant improvements in mothers’ knowledge of causes of diarrhoea and hygiene practices. The other intervention groups saw non-significant impacts for childhood stunting but improvements in knowledge relating to specific intervention education messages given.

Conclusions The study suggests that an improvement in hygiene practices had a significant impact on stunting levels. However, there may be alternative explanations for this and further evidence is required.

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An effectiveness trial showed lipid-based nutrient supplementation but not corn–soya blend offered a modest benefit in weight gain among 6- to 18-month-old underweight children in rural Malawi

In Under-nutrition on August 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm

by Chrissie M Thakwalakwa, Per Ashorn, Mpumulo Jawati, John C Phuka, Yin Bun Cheung and Kenneth M Maleta

Public Health Nutrition / Volume 15 / Issue 09 / September 2012 , pp 1755-1762


 Objective To determine if supplementation with corn–soya blend (CSB) or lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) improved the weight gain of moderately underweight infants and children when provided through the national health service.

Design A randomised, controlled, assessor-blinded clinical trial. Infants and children were randomised to receive for 12 weeks an average daily ration of 71 g CSB or 43 g LNS, providing 1188 kJ and 920 kJ, respectively, or no supplement (control). Main outcome was weight gain. Secondary outcomes included changes in anthropometric indices and incidence of serious adverse events. Intention-to-treat analyses were used.

Setting Kukalanga, Koche, Katema and Jalasi health centres in Mangochi District, rural Malawi.

Subjects Underweight (weight-for-age Z-score <−2) infants and children aged 6–15 months (n 299).

Results Mean weight gain was 630 g, 680 g and 750 g in control, CSB and LNS groups, respectively (P = 0·21). When adjusted for baseline age, children receiving LNS gained on average 90 g more weight (P = 0·185) and their weight-for-length Z-score increased 0·22 more (P = 0·049) compared with those receiving no supplementation. No statistically significant differences were observed between the CSB and control groups in mean weight and length gain.

Conclusions LNS supplementation provided during the lean season via through the national health service was associated with a modest increase in weight. However, the effect size was lower than that previously reported under more controlled research settings.

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Mobile phone technologies to improve the prevention and treatment of malnutrition?

In Under-nutrition on August 23, 2012 at 8:56 am

Source: Rapid SMS – http://www.rapidsms.org/

In 2011, WHO reports:

The use of mobile and wireless technologies to support the achievement of health objectives (mHealth) has the potential to transform the face of health service delivery across the globe.

A powerful combination of factors is driving this change. These include rapid advances in mobile technologies and applications, a rise in new opportunities for the integration of mobile health into existing eHealth services, and the continued growth in coverage of mobile cellular networks.” (download the entire doc)

(To learn more about m-Health, read this paper from the WHO Bulletin: Point of care in your pocket: a research agenda for the field of m-health)

The same WHO document mentions a wide range of  applications, but regretfully does not include the treatment or the prevention of malnutrition, although the potential is there. These are few examples:

  • In Kenya, in 2009, the Millennium Villages Project and the Columbia University looked into the use of SMS to support the community-based management of acute malnutrition in children under five. The pilot study concludes that “an
, which 

help in 
 (see the entire doc)
  • In Malawi, more recently, “UNICEF deployed SMS to address serious constraints within the national Integrated Nutrition and Food Security Surveillance (INFSS) System, which was facing slow data transmission, incomplete and poor quality data sets, high operational costs and low levels of stakeholder ownership.  Health workers now enter a child’s data, and through an innovative feedback loop system, Rapid SMS instantly alerts field monitors of their patients’ nutritional status. Automated basic diagnostic tests are now identifying more children with moderate malnutrition who were previously falling through the cracks.  This system also increased local ownership of the larger surveillance program through two-way information exchange.  Operational costs for the Rapid SMS system are significantly less than the current data collection system. The Government of Malawi is considering a national scale-up later this year” (read more here)
  • In the last 2 years, the same organization (Rapid SMS) has successfully piloted in Ethiopia a RUTF stock reporting and request system. This has the potential for improving the communications of stock levels and requests up the supply chain and consequently for avoiding supply breaks (more info here at page 42, and here)
  • WFP focuses on the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and has also been involved with innovations using cash/vouchers and SMS for monitoring the implementation of programmes and for monitoring cases of malnutrition (read more at page 24 of this document)
  •  In 2011, UNICEF and Valid International undertook a “Global Mapping Review of Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition” (with a focus on Severe Acute Malnutrition). In countries of interest, the same document suggests a review of innovative technologies to improve information flow to national level. Those include the use of Rapid SMS to improve timeliness and quality of reporting.  “Many countries have started or are recommending use of Rapid SMS“, because “the large number of centres makes compilation & transmission difficult”. For this reason, moving “towards Rapid SMS to improve transmission” is crucial.

Some of the organizations with promising capacities to design SMS platforms, and helping in fighting malnutrition, are listed here:

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Note that:

the Forum on Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition will be preparing a more detailed Technical Brief on the subject of M-health and E-health in the coming months.

Feel free to contact the Forum, if you are interested in m-health & nutrition, or in any other aspect related to Community-management of Acute Malnutrition.

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Question: you know any other experience in this area of nutrition and m-health? Worth reporting on this blog? Please, share that: leave a comment (down here), or contact me.

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Save the Children (NGO) about treatment of Acute Malnutrition: Minimum Reporting Package User Guidelines

In Under-nutrition on August 21, 2012 at 10:46 am

(download the entire doc)

“These minimum Reporting Package (MRP) User Guidelines are intended to outline the definitions, reporting categories and performance indicators for monitoring and reporting on three feeding programmes using the MRP software.

“The programmes are: targeted Supplementary Feeding Programmes (SFPs), Outpatient Therapeutic Programmes (OTPs) and Stabilisation Centres (SCs).

“There is also guidance on interpreting and taking action on programme performance indicators.

“The audience for the guidelines are nutrition programme coordinators and M&E staff of NGOs involved in the monitoring and reporting process.”

On this blog you can find more information about management of acute malnutrition, and ready to use foods for undernutrition treatment.
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Context-specific choice of food aid items (USAID)

In Under-nutrition on August 12, 2012 at 10:22 am

(click directly on the flowchart for an enlarged view)

In a recent document (2011), USAID, in collaboration with the UN Global Nutrition Cluster, UNHCR WFP and other organizations, suggest which type of programme and food commodities are more adequate.

However, it was concluded that there is no one food product that can meet every kind of programming goal, and no one programming approach that fits all needs.

The same panel  developed decision trees and few flow charts to help policy makers and donors in taking more informed decisions about programmes and choice of food-products.

The original program guidance is available here, whereas another version of the same, visible above, was adjusted in one chapter of my PhD thesis.

Open Source: a spread sheet application for planning, calculating and monitoring the Nutritional Value of food

In Under-nutrition on August 11, 2012 at 11:49 am

The planning, calculation, and monitoring application for food assistance programmes, NutVal 3.0 has an expanded database of commodities and products, and new population sub-groups to use for asssessing the adequacy of food assistance. NutVal is designed to run on Excel 2003 and later versions.

Download the most recent version of NutVal

NutVal was developed UNHCR, WFP, IGH/UCL and Global Nutrition Cluster.

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This blog hosts other posts related to the use of nutritional software.

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