e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Supplementary foods for the management of moderate acute malnutrition in children

Moderate acute malnutrition in children is defined as a weight-for-height between -3 and -2 Z-scores of the WHO Child Growth Standards median, without oedema. Globally, an estimated 40 million preschool-age children are moderately acutely malnourished.

The dietary management of children with moderate acute malnutrition is based on the optimal use of locally available foods to improve nutritional status and prevent severe acute malnutrition. In situations of food shortage, or where some nutrients are not sufficiently available through local foods, supplementary foods have been used to treat children with moderate acute malnutrition.

Currently there are no evidence-informed recommendations on the composition of supplementary foods used to treat children with moderate acute malnutrition. WHO has published a technical note that summarizes existing knowledge and presents principles on the dietary management of children with moderate acute malnutrition. The technical note also proposes a nutrient composition profile for supplementary foods.

WHO recommendations

Children 6–59 months of age with moderate acute malnutrition need to consume nutrient-dense foods to meet their extra needs for weight and height gain and functional recovery.


Additional principles of nutritional management of children with moderate acute malnutrition can be found in the guidance document, under 'WHO documents' below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Other guidance documents


Related Cochrane reviews
Other related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

13 October 2017 16:30 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

Essential Nutrition Actions

This intervention is an Essential Nutrition Action targeting the first 1000 days of life.

Global targets

Implementation of this intervention may contribute to the achievement of the following targets:

Global nutrition targets

Target 6: Reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%