Sufficient Protein Quality of Food Aid Varies with the Physiologic Status of Recipients

Meghan Callaghan, Momo Oyama, Mark Manary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Protein quality scores use the amino acid (AA) requirements of a healthy North American child. AA requirements vary with physiologic status. We estimated AA requirements for healthy North American children, children with environmental enteric dysfunction, children recovering from wasting, and children with an acute infection. The protein quality of food aid products was then calculated to determine whether it was sufficient in all these groups, and we found that it may not be adequate for all of them. Physiologic status is important when assessing the protein quality of food aid. Rates of weight gain from 8 published trials treating children with moderate acute malnutrition were abstracted, and protein quality scores from the corresponding food aid products were calculated with the use of the digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS). Two DIAAS values were calculated, one in healthy children aged 1–3 y as a reference population and the other in malnourished children aged 1–3 y as a reference population. These data were used to calculate the best fit regression line between weight gain and protein quality. The slope of the regression line was greater when malnourished children were used as a reference population than when healthy children were used (0.128; 95% CI: 0.118, 0.138 compared with 0.097; 95% CI: 0.090, 0.105 measured in g • kg21 • d21 • DIASS U21). These findings suggest that adjusting AA requirements for physiologic status may more accurately estimate the minimum protein quality of food aid products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-280
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • amino acid requirements
  • food aid
  • moderate acute malnutrition
  • protein quality
  • protein requirements


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