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Apr 26, 2017 10:41 AM EDT

Hunger is one of the leading social problems in the world today with children getting most of its brunt. However, that might end soon with the development of a special 'milkshake' by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to the World Hunger Organization, 795 million people out of the 7.3 billion people in the world are suffering from chronic malnutrition. More so, 161 million children have stunted growth because of malnutrition. In India alone, 194.6 million Indians are undernourished.

There have been measures done to solve the hunger and malnutrition problem. One of them is the ready-to-use therapeutic food or RUTF developed by a French company. RUTF is a combination of high-energy lipid-based products, such as oil, peanut butter, milk powder, and sugar.

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While RUTF is effective, there are several downsides to using it. First, it is difficult to consume it without water. This is a challenge since most of the areas ravaged by hunger and malnutrition in India have difficulty or no access to clean water. Secondly, it costs more than what most Indian families can afford.

These challenges led Tonghan Gu, a chemical engineer and an MIT Tata Fellow and a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, to develop a special kind of 'milkshake' that is more viable in solving the hunger and malnutrition problem in India.

This 'milkshake' is also an RUTF but with a formulation that is more palatable for Indian children as well as easy to store and transport to poor communities.

According to Gu, the 'milkshake' is made up of local produce like chickpeas or chana dai in India. He said they are also planning to add different spices so that children can choose from different flavors. More so, it is less viscous than the usual RUTF making it easier for even infants to consume it.

Hatton and Gu said that the next phase of their project is manufacturing and marketing. They are working with scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology at Mumbai to finalize the 'milkshake' formula.

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