Miracle food to fight malnutrition (video)

A promising cereal formula has been invented by Bangladesh experts to fight deadly acute malnutrition in children.

Scientists at the icddr,b have developed a special food rich in protein and micronutrients that can help recover children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

The rice and lentil-based one was named Sharnali-1 and the chickpea-based one Sharnali-2. Photo: Zaid Bin Kalam

The ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) is made of locally available ingredients -- rice, lentil, chickpea, milk powder, sugar and soybean oil. Its quality is similar to that of the standard RUTF -- Plumpy'Nut -- produced commercially by a French company, says the icddr,b.

They finally prepared two types of RUTF -- one is rice and lentil-based and the other is chickpea-based. Both the food items were separately mixed with lentil, powder milk, sugar and soybean oil. The rice and lentil-based one was named Sharnali-1 and the chickpea-based one Sharnali-2.

Each 100 grams of the two items contain food value of more than 500 kilocalories.

The icddr,b team behind the success. Photo: Zaid Bin Kalam

"This RUTF is critically important for Bangladesh, as six lakh children under the age of five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition," Prof Tahmeed Ahmed, director at the Centre for Nutrition and Food Security at the icddr,b, said when he was interviewed by these correspondents.

Severe Acute Malnutrition is a condition that can cause death or intellectually maim those who survive. The children suffering from it remain highly underweight and stunted either for lack of breastfeeding, supplementary food or diarrhoea.

Globally, close to 20 million children below five years suffer from SAM, and around one million of them die every year, according to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).

Most Asian countries don't have locally made RUTF, and some of them, including Afghanistan, Indonesia and Nepal, import Plumpy'Nut on a limited scale for children suffering from SAM.

With an aim to develop a RUTF that would be cheap and available, the icddr,b, initiated a research four years ago. A team of scientists led by Tahmeed first sorted out food items that are locally available and cheap.

As part of the study, Sharnali-1 and 2, and Plumpy'Nut were fed separately to 327 children suffering from SAM in three facilities -- Dhaka Hospital of icddr,b, a health facility of an NGO in Mirpur and Terre Des Hommes in Kurigram.


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