Currently, no World Health Organization guidelines exist for the management of approximately 31.8 million moderately wasted children globally. The objective of this review was to synthesise evidence on the optimal type, quantity, and duration of dietary treatment for moderate wasting. Ten electronic databases were searched until the 23rd of August 2021. Experimental studies comparing interventions for the dietary management of moderate wasting were included. Meta-analyses were conducted and results were presented as risk ratios or mean differences with 95% confidence intervals. Seventeen studies comparing specially formulated foods were included involving 23,005 participants. Findings suggest little or no difference in recovery between Fortified Blended Foods (FBFs) with improved micronutrient and/or milk content (enhanced FBFs) and lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS), whereas children treated with non-enhanced FBFs (locally produced FBFs or standard corn–soy blend) may have lower recovery rates than those treated with LNS. There was no difference in recovery when ready-to-use therapeutic and ready-to-use supplementary food were compared. Other outcomes mostly aligned with results for recovery. In conclusion, LNSs improve recovery compared to non-enhanced FBFs, but are comparable to enhanced FBFs. Programmatic choice of supplement should consider factors such as cost, cost-effectiveness, and acceptability. Further research is required to determine optimal dosing and duration of supplementation.
- corn–soy blend
- fortified blended foods
- moderate acute malnutrition
- ready-to-use supplementary foods
- ready-to-use therapeutic foods