The objective of this study was to evaluate, within the context of a randomized controlled trial of product effectiveness, the acceptability of new formulations of six corn-soy blended flours (CSB) and six lipid-based nutrient supplements (LNS) with different quantities of milk and qualities of soy for the treatment of children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM).
Our study included 1546 children aged 6–23 months and involved questionnaires after one month of supplementation home visits and interviews with a sub-sample of 20 trial participants and their caretakers, and nine focus group discussion.
All 12 products were well accepted in terms of organoleptic qualities and received good ratings. However, LNS were more appreciated by caretakers and children. Additionally, an effect of soy isolate was detected on child appreciation where products with high milk content also received better ratings. CSB were not consumed as readily; 33.9% (n = 257) of children receiving CSB were reported to have leftovers compared to 17.3% (n = 134) of children receiving LNS (p= < 0.001). Both CSB and LNS were referred to as foods with medicinal properties and perceived as beneficial to child health. They were both reported to have high priority in the daily feeding of the child.
In conclusion, there were minimal differences in acceptability of the various CSB and LNS formulations, although CSB were less readily consumed and required smaller meal volumes. Since all products were well-accepted, decisions regarding whether the more expensive products should be used for the treatment of MAM will need to be based on their effect on child nutrition, growth and health. Future supplementary feeding programs in similar contexts could furthermore consider introducing supplementary foods as a medical treatment, as this may increase adherence and decrease sharing.