e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

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, healthcare centres and schools.

Current evidence suggests that community-based supplementary feeding has little to no impact on child growth, however, the small number of studies that exist on this topic make it difficult to reach any firm conclusions, 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.

Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made. In the meantime, families and children in need should continue to be provided with supplementary foods.

WHO recommendations

Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available



Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

15 June 2017 14:51 CEST

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee