Potential Use of Edible Insects in Complementary Foods for Children: A Literature Review

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Background: Childhood malnutrition is an important public health problem. Animal protein provides essential amino acids in a more adequate pattern than plant-based protein. However, the production of sufficient animal-sourced protein to feed the growing world population is a serious challenge. This review aims to explore the evidence on the use of edible insects as an alternative source of protein and micronutrients in complementary foods for children and their potential to address childhood malnutrition. Methods: Searches were conducted in two electronic databases PubMed and Cochrane. The reference lists of included studies were also searched. Results: Twelve studies were included in this review. All insect-enriched formulations (e.g., biscuits, cereals, porridge, paste, etc.) exceeded the daily recommended amount of protein and fat for children’s complementary foods and showed good acceptability. Only two studies assessed the efficacy of insect-enriched foods on nutritional indicators and found no effect on the reduction of stunting and wasting. However, one study found improvements in the haemoglobin levels and fewer cases of anaemia in the intervention group. Conclusions: Insect-enriched complementary foods for children are safe, acceptable and have the potential to tackle micronutrient deficiencies. More studies are needed to examine their effect on nutritional status in children.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4756
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • complementary food
  • school meal
  • children
  • edible insects
  • novel food formulations
  • malnutrition
  • nutrition deficiency


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