Food supplements have little effect on the weight of malnourished children

September 18, 2012, Public Library of Science

Providing energy dense food supplements within a general household food distribution has little effect on the weight of children at risk of malnutrition

Giving energy dense — Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food (RUSF), a lipid-based nutrient supplement—to young children in addition to a general food distribution in a country with food shortages (Chad) did not reduce levels of wasting (low weight for height, a sign of acute undernutrition) but slightly increased their height and haemoglobin levels according to a study conducted by the international non-governmental organization Action Against Hunger-France (ACF-France) in collaboration with published in this week's .

In emergency situations, international aid organizations support affected populations by distributing food and sometimes by also providing nutritional supplements such as RUSF, to children at risk of malnutrition. In a cluster randomized controlled trial, researchers from Belgium and France, led by Lieven Huybregts from Ghent University in Belgium, investigated the effect of a targeted daily dose of RUSF in 6

Explore further: Who has power over food?

More information: Huybregts L, Houngbe´ F, Salpe´teur C, Brown R, Roberfroid D, et al. (2012) The Effect of Adding Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food to a General Food Distribution on Child Nutritional Status and Morbidity: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS Med 9(9): e1001313. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001313

Perspective article: Dewey KG, Arimond M (2012) Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplements: How Can They Combat Child Malnutrition? PLoS Med 9(9): e1001314. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001314

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murigi
not rated yet Oct 08, 2012
The way whole foods work in the body might never be understood fully. This is why nutritional supplements will always play a secondary role when compared to food. Despite this, they have a role to play in times of crisis and in our lives (www.integratednutritionalsupplementsguide.com)

It may not be clear why children in the group on RUSF supplements did not gain weight as probably expected. But it points to the fact that more is needed under such humanitarian catastrophes if total health is to be realized. Probably the most effective way would be to correct the primary cause of the problem. Since that may be beyond the role of the relief organizations, RUSF has a role in at least reducing child mortality in disaster areas. It would also be good to know about other aspects that contribute to overall good health. For example how was the general hygiene including sanitation and water source? It is common to find parasitic infestation in children in such situations which affects results.

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