Supplementary feeding in community settings for promoting child growth
Undernutrition is a major underlying cause of child morbidity and mortality in low-income settings. The WHO child growth standards show how children should grow if they are given an optimum start in life. They are used for monitoring the well-being of children and for detecting children or populations that are not growing properly.
Interventions aimed at preventing or treating growth faltering by optimizing and supporting the nutritional well-being of children include community-based supplementary feeding. This is the provision of extra food to children or families beyond the normal ration of their home diets, and can take place in the home, feeding centres, health-care centres and schools.
Current systematic reviews have failed to demonstrate a sizable impact on child growth, however, the small number of studies that exist on this topic make if difficult to reach any firm conclusion, and the results from the current systematic review should be interpreted with caution because of the diversity of the studies included and their limited geographical scope. Additional research is required. In the meantime, families and children in need should continue to be provided with supplementary foods.
- Community-based supplementary feeding for promoting the growth of children under five years of age in low and middle income countries