Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently penned a piece for CNN describing how Plumpy'Nut, a peanut paste, is helping children in Somalia that are suffering from severe hunger. Plumpy'Nut contains, in addition to peanut paste, vegetable oil, milk powder, vitamins and minerals. It can be consumed at home and costs less than fortified milk formulas, which were used in years past to attempt to curb malnutrition.
In a blog post for The Huffington Post last year, Jeffrey Sachs extolled the benefits of Plumpy'Nut but also cautioned against overstating its impact. He was responding to a New York Times calling it a "miracle product."
It is critical, however, that we not confuse the many types of hunger and malnutrition (poor nutrition) around the world. Plumpy'Nut is not a miracle cure for global hunger or for global malnutrition. Plumpy'Nut addresses only one kind of hunger -- acute episodes of extreme food deprivation or illness, the kind mainly associated with famines and conflicts. Plumpy'Nut is not designed for the other major kind of hunger, notably chronic hunger due to long-term poor diets. Nor is it designed to fight long-term malnutrition that is due to various kinds of chronic micronutrient deficiencies, such as iron, zinc and vitamin-A deficiencies.
The current situation in Somalia, however, would fall under Sachs' definition of acute hunger. There are over 1,300 famine-affected Somalis crossing into Kenya every day.
As of last year, 26 million children currently suffer from malnutrition and between one and two million are receiving Plumpy'nut or a similar product. Watch the video below to see how Plumpy'Nut works.