by Marion Nestle
Sep 13 2007

How’s This for a Use for Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter, it seems, is the basis of a “ready-to-use therapeutic food” (RUTF) for aiding recovery of severely malnourished children in Africa. The announcement of these results doesn’t say what kind. The study itself is published in Maternal and Child Nutrition and the authors make the point that people administering this RUTF do not need to be medically trained so this therapy can be used at home. I’m always amazed when researchers discover that feeding malnourished children helps them to recover. Peanut butter is highly concentrated in calories and the investigators mixed in some vitamins along with it, so I guess it can be considered a superfood.

  • Diana Foss

    How common are peanut allergies among the children likely to receive this therapy?

  • Good question. I’m not familiar with data on the prevalence of food allergies in developing countries (it may exist; I just haven’t seen it). Research on food allergies in general is pretty skimpy–this is an area that needs much more attention, in my opinion–and lots is unknown. Allergies are more prevalent in places where there is more exposure to the offending food. If peanuts are not commonly eaten in Malawi, the prevalence should be lower than in the U.S. where about 1% of children and adults react to peanuts.

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  • Fentry

    I wonder how George Washington Carver would feel.