Famine Relief - Temporary Therapeutic Foods

Temporary Therapeutic Foods

Malnutrition is a medical condition, not just a lack of food. The bodies of severely malnourished children are unable to process regular food. Instead of being fed food such as rice or porridge, children are fed therapeutic foods for up to one month, or until their bodies are able to process traditional foods. There are three main types of therapeutic foods in use; these consist of powdered milk formulas named F-75 and F-100 and a ready-to-eat peanut paste named Plumpy'nut. F-75 and F-100 are formulated specifically for the severely malnourished, to be used only under supervision. Plumpy’nut can be used at home without supervision.

  • F-75 (phase 1 therapeutic milk): a milk based powder mixed with water, that is given to severely malnourished children when they first arrive for treatment. It is normally given for one to three days, in cases of kwashiorkor it can be given for a maximum of seven days. It is not intended to cause the child to gain weight, but only to condition the body to digest food.
  • F-100 (phase 2 therapeutic milk): a milk based powder mixed with water. It contains more protein and calories than F-75, and is designed for rapid weight gain, and to prepare the body for digestion of normal food. It has been criticized as very ineffective compared to the "breakthrough" invention of Plumpy'nut.
  • Plumpy'nut: a ready-to-eat mixture of peanut paste, milk powder, sugar, fats, minerals and vitamins. This is the newest of the three, and is generally used as an alternative to using F-100.
  • After the malnourished children recover enough to be able to digest complex foods, products containing higher levels of protein can be used to increase muscle growth. Plant protein foods such as textured vegetable protein have been advocated, aside containing high amounts of protein, they also have a long shelf life and are inexpensive. Also, similar to tofu, plant protein can be manufactured in a sustainable way, unlike animal protein. This is an important question in areas such as Darfur, where cattle farming contributes to constant destruction of arable farmland.

Plumpy’nut has two main advantages over F-100: it comes in a ready-to-eat packet that requires no water or mixing; and it puts mothers in charge of feeding their own malnourished children in their own communities, rather than forcing them to always bring their malnourished children to hospitals or therapeutic feeding centers for assistance. The Wall Street Journal noted: "Nutritionists for the first time can take treatment beyond crowded emergency feeding centers and hospitals settings, where disease can spread rapidly, and into communities where malnourished children live."

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