Background: Moderate and severe acute malnutrition affects 13% of children <5 y of age worldwide. Severe acute malnutrition affects fewer children but is associated with higher rates of mortality and morbidity. Supplementary feeding programs aim to treat moderate acute malnutrition and prevent the deterioration to severe acute malnutrition.
Objective: The aim was to compare recovery rates of children with moderate acute malnutrition in supplementary feeding programs by using the newly recommended ration of ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF) and the more conventional ration of corn-soya blend (CSB) in Ethiopia.
Design: A total of 1125 children aged 6-60 mo with moderate acute malnutrition received 16 wk of CSB or RUSF. Children were randomly assigned to receive one or the other food. The daily rations were purposely based on the conventional treatment rations distributed at the time of the study in Ethiopia: 300 g CSB and 32 g vegetable oil in the control group (1413 kcal) and 92 g RUSF in the intervention group (500 kcal). The higher ration size of CSB was provided because of expected food sharing.
Results: The HR for children in the CSB group was 0.85 (95% CI: 0.73, 0.99), which indicated that they had 15% lower recovery (P = 0.039). Recovery rates of children at the end of the 16-wk treatment period trended higher in the RUSF group (73%) than in the CSB group (67%) (P = 0.056).
Conclusion: In comparison with CSB, the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition with RUSF resulted in higher recovery rates in children, despite the large ration size and higher energy content of the conventional CSB ration.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01097889.