Tackling under-nutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies, is increasingly recognized as a high priority and high-return development investment, closely linked to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. While attention has often focused on one or several individual micronutrients such as iron or vitamin A, poor quality diets are known to result in multiple deficiencies. Infants, young children and women of reproductive age are most vulnerable due to the high nutrient requirements of growth, pregnancy and lactation. For these groups, innovative and affordable approaches are needed to fill gaps in essential nutrients, and policy action may be required to develop and deliver them.
Lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) are a family of products designed to deliver nutrients to vulnerable people. They are considered “lipid-based” because the majority of the energy provided by these products is from lipids (fats). All LNS products provide a range of micronutrients, but unlike most other multiple micronutrient supplements LNS also provide energy, protein, and essential fatty acids (EFA). Like other essential nutrients, EFA cannot be produced within the body and must be consumed. High energy/high dose LNS products such as Plumpy’nutTM have emerged as a very effective option for treating severe acute malnutrition in children, and make it possible to do so via community-based programs.
The current iLiNS Project seeks to build on the work with additional efficacy trials in Malawi, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. The new trials aim to confirm the potential of LNS for prevention of under-nutrition, and will identify product formulations that are optimized with respect to nutrient content and energy dose, and are cost-effective.
Dr. Vosti is an economist at UC Davis and is responsible for the socioeconomic research associated with the LNS trials. He will present an overview of the project, and then focus on the economics of early childhood undernutrition.