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Peanut pastes and milk powders to save children

Child eating Plumpy'nut in northern Côte d'Ivoire
(Nancy Palus/IRIN)

Aid agencies in Niger and Chad have begun giving tens of thousands of malnourished children a product called Plumpy’doz to save them from sliding into often-fatal severe malnutrition.

Another ready-to-eat food, the nutrient-dense Plumpy’nut to treat severe acute malnutrition, has been widely used since its first major intervention in Darfur in 2003. Today several African countries including Niger are producing Plumpy’nut locally. Meanwhile Plumpy’doz and other products for moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) are being studied for their efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

In Chad the monthly distribution of Plumpy’doz from July to October (the lean season) marks the first-ever use of the product there, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is closely monitoring the intervention for future planning.

Supplementary Plumpy is among therapeutic foods being studied in a UNICEF project in Mali, aimed at filling what many nutrition experts call a troubling gap, in which there is little scientific evidence of the effect of various products on MAM, despite it being a major cause of morbidity and mortality among children worldwide.

UNICEF estimates that of the 6.5 million acutely malnourished children in West and Central Africa, five million have moderate acute malnutrition.

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From UNICEF-Niger, here is a rundown of products aid agencies are using to stem the Sahel nutrition crisis:


Therapeutic food with high nutritional value for children aged one to five.

A high-protein, high-energy peanut-based paste, designed to appeal to children. It does not need to be refrigerated and has a shelf-life of two years, making it easy to deploy for treating severe malnutrition. Treatment takes six to seven weeks.

It contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E and K, with the necessary minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, iodine, sodium and selenium.

Used as an alternative to therapeutic milk F100 (see below) for treating severe malnourishment, or for children without medical complications who are outpatients.


Administered to prevent malnutrition in children aged six to 23 months.

A ready-to-use paste of vegetable fat, peanut butter, sugar, milk and nutrients. It has a longer shelf-life than previous diet supplements.

Three teaspoons of Plumpy’doz three times a day provides a child with additional energy, including fats, high-quality proteins and essential minerals and vitamins required for growth and a healthy immune system.

Malnutrition terms

Global acute malnutrition, or "wasting", is defined as low weight for height or the presence of oedema. It can be moderate (MAM) or severe (SAM). It occurs as a result of recent rapid weight loss, malnutrition, or a failure to gain weight within a relatively short period of time. Wasting occurs more commonly in infants and younger children. Recovery from wasting is relatively quick once optimal feeding, health and care are restored. Wasting occurs as a result of deficiencies in both macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate and protein) and some micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Chronic malnutrition, commonly referred to as "stunting", is a failure to grow in stature, which occurs as a result of inadequate nutrition over a longer period. It is a slow, cumulative process, the effects of which are usually not apparent until the age of two years. Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is the most dangerous form of malnutrition. Left untreated, SAM can result in death.

Sources: Action contre la Faim and UNICEF

Supplementary Plumpy

Treats moderate acute malnutrition and deficiency-related illnesses in children aged one to five. It is also given to children leaving therapeutic nutrition programmes to prevent the re-emergence of severe acute malnutrition.

Supplementary Plumpy requires no cooking or refrigeration, the dose is generally one sachet per day per child, and the duration of treatment is three months.

It contains vegetable fat, sugar, soya flour, peanut paste, whey powder, fat-reduced cocoa, and mineral and vitamin complex.

Therapeutic milk F75

For the initial phase of treating severe malnutrition with medical complications.

As a rapid weight increase is dangerous during the first phase of treatment for severe acute malnutrition with complications, F75 is designed to re-establish the metabolic balance without weight gain.

Treatment is three to four days.

Therapeutic milk F100

For nutritional rehabilitation of severely malnourished children. Qualified staff must administer the milk to the children. Use must be closely monitored as the need for water poses a risk of contamination.

Both the F75 and F100 milks contain powdered milk, vegetable oil and concentrated combinations of vitamin and dextrin. They are high in energy, proteins and fats.


Generic product description

Proprietary name
Price factory

per carton (US$)
Freight per carton

from Europe to West Africa
Final cost

(West Africa Region)
F-100 456g sachet / 30-ct carton47.506.5054.00
F-75 410g sachet / 20-ct carton24.306.5030.80
Ready-to-use supplementary food / 150-ct cartonSupplementary Plumpy40.306.4046.70
Supplementary spread 325g pot / 36-ct cartonPlumpy'doz42.006.1048.10
Therapeutic spread 92g sachet / 150-ct cartonPlumpy'nut49.806.4056.20
Source: UNICEF Supply Division, August 2010


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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