Ready-to-Use Supplementary Food Increases Fat Mass and BMI in Haitian School-Aged Children1–3

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Abstract

Background:

In Haiti and other countries, large-scale investments in school feeding programs have been made with marginal evidence of nutrition outcomes.

Objective:

We aimed to examine the effectiveness of a fortified ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF), Mamba, on reduced anemia and improved body composition in school-aged children compared to an unfortified cereal bar, Tablet Yo, and control groups.

Methods:

A cluster, randomized trial with children ages 3–13 y (n = 1167) was conducted in the north of Haiti. Six schools were matched and randomized to the control group, Tablet Yo group (42 g, 165 kcal), or Mamba group (50 g, 260 kcal, and >75% of the RDA for critical micronutrients). Children in the supplementation groups received the snack daily for 100 d, and all were followed longitudinally for hemoglobin concentrations, anthropometry, and bioelectrical impedance measures: baseline (December 2012), midline (March 2013), and endline (June 2013). Parent surveys were conducted at baseline and endline to examine secondary outcomes of morbidities and dietary intakes. Longitudinal regression modeling using generalized least squares and logit with random effects tested the main effects.

Results:

At baseline,14.0% of children were stunted, 14.5% underweight, 9.1% thin, and 73% anemic. Fat mass percentage (mean ± SD) was 8.1% ± 4.3% for boys and 12.5% ± 4.4% for girls. In longitudinal modeling, Mamba supplementation increased body mass index z score (regression coefficient ± SEE) 0.25 ± 0.06, fat mass 0.45 ± 0.14 kg, and percentage fat mass 1.28% ± 0.27% compared with control at each time point (P < 0.001). Among boys, Mamba increased fat mass (regression coefficient ± SEE) 0.73 ± 0.19 kg and fat-free mass 0.62 ± 0.34 kg compared with control (P < 0.001). Mamba reduced the odds of developing anemia by 28% compared to control (adjusted OR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.57, 0.91; P < 0.001). No treatment effect was found for hemoglobin concentration.

Conclusion:

To our knowledge, this is the first study to give evidence of body composition effects from an RUSF in school-aged children.

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