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Acceptability and impact on anthropometry of a locally developed Ready-to-use therapeutic food in pre-school children in Vietnam

Tran T Nga1, Marie Nguyen2, Roger Mathisen3, Do TB Hoa1, Nguyen H Minh1, Jacques Berger2 and Frank T Wieringa24*

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hanoi, Vietnam

2 UMR 204 NUTRIPASS « Prevention of Malnutrition and associated pathologies », IRD-UMR2-UMR1, Institute of Research for Development (IRD), Montpellier, France

3 UNICEF Vietnam, 81A Tran Quoc Toan, Hanoi, Vietnam

4 UMR204 'Nutripass' IRD/UM2/UM1, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), BP 64501-911, avenue d'Agropolis, 34394 MONTPELLIER CEDEX 5, France

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:120  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-120

Published: 15 August 2013



In South East Asia, concerns exist about the acceptability of peanut-based Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Foods (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Therefore, an alternative, culturally acceptable RUTF made from locally available ingredients and complying with local food traditions and preferences was developed. The current study evaluated its acceptability and impact on anthropometry.


The study was a randomized, two-arm, cross-over intervention trial to test the acceptability of the local product (bar) against a commercially available, peanut-based RUTF paste (Plumpy’nut®). Children (n = 67) from two kindergartens in a rural area of North Vietnam were recruited. The age of the children was between 3 and 5 years.


The Vietnamese RUTF was well-accepted, although overall acceptability was less than of Plumpy’nut®, with the latter scoring higher on palatability (P < 0.05). In contrast, reluctance to eat Plumpy’nut® was higher than for the Vietnamese RUTF (P < 0.05). Impact on anthropmetrical indices was similar for both RUTF. The nutritional status of the children who consumed the two RUTF over a 4 week period improved significantly, with a mean weight gain of 0.64 (SD 0.27) Kg, and increases in WHZ and HAZ z-scores of 0.48 (SD 0.30) and 0.05 (SD 0.13) respectively (P < 0.01 both). Weight gain was similar between the 2 products (0.32 kg per 2 weeks for both).


Both the commercial Plumpy’nut® and the local produced RUTF were accepted although the harder consistency of the local product might have caused the lower overall acceptance. The promising increase in nutritional status needs to be confirmed in a controlled trial in children with SAM.

RUTF; Severe acute malnutrition; Anthropometry; Acceptability; Preschool children