Background and Aims The Parma Pap Project started in 2008 as cooperation among Paediatric School, Human Nutrition Unit, Food Technology Laboratory, University of Parma and the NGO “Emergency”, with the aim to develop a ready to use therapeutic food for the home-treatment of moderately malnourished African children. Parma Pap is a mix of peanuts, palm oil, milk powder and sugar, with high energy density and a micronutrient profile specifically designed on the base of WHO recommendations.
Methods The study included 330 moderately malnourished children between 6 months and 5 years, whose families referred to the Emergency Surgical Centre in Goderich, Sierra Leone. Patients with a Weight-for-Height Z score (WHZ) between 70% and 80% were enrolled and randomized into two groups: one received Feeding Program Supplementations (FPS: corn flour, palm oil and milk powder) + Parma Pap, whereas a control group received only FPS. The clinical follow-up lasted 13 weeks. Weight, height and WHZ were checked weekly and children were treated for concomitant infections.
Results The WHZ improvements were higher in children fed the Parma Pap with respect to the control group (p<0.01, Mann-Whitney U-test for independent samples). A detailed analysis of approximately 200 drop-outs was carried out to identify the most relevant factors involved.
Conclusions Providing Parma Pap in addition to standard feeding in malnourished children in Sierra Leone was an effective strategy to improve growth and in quickly replete WHZ. Information about participant drop-out will help increasing compliance in future feeding studies.
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