The Use of Nutrition Products for the Prevention and Treatment of Undernutrition

A range of nutrition products is increasingly being used to tackle undernutrition, and over the last 10 years the number of products available on the market has multiplied. These include ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs), ready-to-use supplementaryfoods (RUSFs), fortified blended foods (FBFs) and micronutrient powders (MNPs).

The aim of this technical report is to provide greater clarity on what is known and where the evidence and information gaps are, to help develop clear guidance on the use of, and appropriate areas of support for, nutrition products for governments and other international agencies. The content of the report is based on key informant interviews and literature review.

Findings include:

  • There is good evidence that RUTFs are effective for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition without medical complications.
  • Local production of RUTFs in developing countries has the potential of stimulating the local economy, contributing to self-sufficiency and reducing environmental waste. It does not guarantee lower prices.
  • The most cost-effective direct nutrition interventions are breastfeeding promotion, vitamin A supplementation and distribution of MNPs at a cost of less than US$12 per disability adjusted life year (DALY).
  • Initiatives to tackle undernutrition should focus on ‘progammes’ and not on ‘products’.

 

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