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Author Notes:

Bernadette Daelmans, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. E‐mail: daelmansb@who.int

AB and EF conceptualized the Optifood tool. AB and BD provided oversight to the development of the Optifood tool and CKL, HP, EC, NM and RM provided oversight to the development of the ProPAN tool. EF wrote the linear programming models and technically guided the design of the electronic platform and its field testing. MW led the development of and updates to the Optifood reference data files and gave technical advice throughout the process. HP co‐ordinated the harmonization of ProPAN and Optifood, HCK participated in the development of ProPAN. HCK, RP and NS field tested Optifood. BD, CKL, HP, EF, NS, HCK, RP and NM drafted sections of the manuscript. All authors read, edited and approved the final manuscript.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and FANTA provided technical contributions to the development of the second edition of ProPAN. Dr Nicole Darmon from the National Research Institute of Agronomy, Marseilles, France, Dr Zaid Chalabi from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK and Robert Stanley from University College London, London, UK provided technical contributions to the development of Optifood. Carmen Casanovas and Divya Shankar provided editorial support to the manuscript.

Helena Pachón works at the Flour Fortification Initiative (FFI) which receives in‐kind contributions from vitamin and mineral pre‐mix companies to host meals and breaks at FFI co‐sponsored workshops held worldwide. All other authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Research Funding:

Funding for the development of Optifood was provided through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under terms of Cooperative Agreement No. AID‐OAA‐A‐12‐00005, through the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA), managed by FHI 360, with additional funding from the UBS Optimus Foundation, WHO Headquarters and the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific.

Funding for ProPAN was provided in part by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Helena Pachón's time was supported by an appointment to the Research Participation Program at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the US Department of Energy and CDC.


  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Nutrition & Dietetics
  • Pediatrics
  • infant and young child feeding
  • complementary feeding
  • ProPAN
  • Optifood
  • infant and young child nutrition
  • FOOD

Designing appropriate complementary feeding recommendations: tools for programmatic action

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Journal Title:



Volume 9, Number S2


, Pages 116-130

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Suboptimal complementary feeding practices contribute to a rapid increase in the prevalence of stunting in young children from age 6 months. The design of effective programmes to improve infant and young child feeding requires a sound understanding of the local situation and a systematic process for prioritizing interventions, integrating them into existing delivery platforms and monitoring their implementation and impact. The identification of adequate food-based feeding recommendations that respect locally available foods and address gaps in nutrient availability is particularly challenging. We describe two tools that are now available to strengthen infant and young child-feeding programming at national and subnational levels. ProPAN is a set of research tools that guide users through a step-by-step process for identifying problems related to young child nutrition; defining the context in which these problems occur; formulating, testing, and selecting behaviour-change recommendations and nutritional recipes; developing the interventions to promote them; and designing a monitoring and evaluation system to measure progress towards intervention goals. Optifood is a computer-based platform based on linear programming analysis to develop nutrient-adequate feeding recommendations at lowest cost, based on locally available foods with the addition of fortified products or supplements when needed, or best recommendations when the latter are not available. The tools complement each other and a case study from Peru illustrates how they have been used. The readiness of both instruments will enable partners to invest in capacity development for their use in countries and strengthen programmes to address infant and young child feeding and prevent malnutrition. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Copyright information:

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/rdf).
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