Standard RUTF vs. locally-made RUSF for acutely malnourished children: A quasi-experimental comparison of the impact on growth and compliance in a rural community of Pakistan

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Background: The reduction in severe and moderate acute malnutrition (SAM and MAM) rates in Pakistan has been sub-optimal compared to other low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Specially-formulated products have been designed globally to manage SAM and MAM, such as ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and ready-to-use supplementary food (RUSF), with variable efficacies. RUTF is primarily produced and patented in industrialized countries, raising supply challenges in resource-constrained regions with a high burden of acute malnutrition. RUSF minimizes costs by using locally-available ingredients while providing similar nutritional value. In this study, we compared the efficacy, side effects, and compliance of two months of supplementation with either RUTF or RUSF.
Methods: Children aged nine months in the rural district of Matiari, Pakistan, with a weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) <-2 received either RUTF (500 kcal sachet) for two months in 2015 or RUSF (520 kcal sachet) for two months in 2018.
Results: The RUSF group had a higher height gain and mid-upper arm circumferences (MUAC) score. Higher compliance was noted with lower side effects in the RUSF group. A higher compliance rate did correlate with the growth parameters in respective groups.
Conclusion: Our study found that both RUTF and RUSF partially improve the anthropometric status of acutely malnourished children, with neither being superior to the other.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

PloS One