Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) containing low or no dairy compared to standard RUTF for children with severe acute malnutrition: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

  • Isabel Potani
  • Carolyn Spiegel-Feld
  • Garyk Brixi
  • Jaden Bendabenda
  • Nandi Siegfried
  • Robert H J Bandsma
  • Briend, André
  • Allison I Daniel

Ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) containing less dairy may be a lower-cost treatment option for severe acute malnutrition (SAM). The objective was to understand the effectiveness of RUTF containing alternative sources of protein (nondairy), or <50% of protein from dairy products, compared with standard RUTF in children with SAM. The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Web of Science were searched using terms relating to RUTF. Studies were eligible if they included children with SAM and evaluated RUTF with <50% of protein from dairy products compared with standard RUTF. Meta-analysis and meta-regression were completed to assess the effectiveness of intervention RUTF on a range of child outcomes. The quality of the evidence across outcomes was assessed using the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) approach. A total of 5868 studies were identified, of which 8 articles of 6 studies met the inclusion criteria evaluating 7 different intervention RUTF recipes. Nondairy or lower-dairy RUTF showed less weight gain (standardized mean difference: -0.20; 95% CI: -0.26, -0.15; P < 0.001), lower recovery (relative risk ratio: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.87, 1.00; P = 0.046), and lower weight-for-age z scores (WAZ) near program discharge (mean difference: -0.10; 95% CI: -0.20, 0.0; P = 0.047). Mortality, time to recovery, default (consecutive absences from outpatient therapeutic feeding program visits), nonresponse, and other anthropometric measures did not differ between groups. The certainty of evidence was high for weight gain and ranged from very low to moderate for other outcomes. RUTF with lower protein from dairy or dairy-free RUTF may not be as effective as standard RUTF for treatment of children with SAM based on weight gain, recovery, and WAZ evaluated using meta-analysis, although further research is required to explore the potential of alternative formulations. 

This review was registered at as CRD42020160762.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Meta-analysis, Network meta-analysis, Meta-regression, Severe acute malnutrition, CMAM, Protein quality, DIAAS, PDCAAS

ID: 259834678