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Power Flour Booklet: A Technical Discussion of Power Flour's Digestive Action

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This project took place in a Nutre Hogar (NH) rehabilitation center in David.  Children were selected for the project that had previously been identified with malnutrition in the pediatric ward of the local hospital, according to NH guidelines.  The parents gave permission for the children to be treated and cared for by NH and NH was given guardianship of the children.

Children were randomly assigned to one of two treatments: malt flour (PF) or no malt flour when they entered the facility.  To be included in the study, a child had to be weaned from the bottle and eating solids.  This was a double-blind design as the center staff who fed the children or who measured them did not know whether a child was receiving PF or not.  The code would not be broken until after the statistics had been completed. 

Cooks prepared the appropriate recipes by measuring enough ingredients to prepare the needed amounts for each group of children.  After each serving of oatmeal was placed in the glass (or bowl), a teaspoon of PF was added for those children on the PF treatment. Oatmeal was given each morning at breakfast.  For one of the snacks in mid morning or mid afternoon, a serving of Crema was given, and PF added appropriately for those children on the PF treatment.  These were the Crema drinks regularly used by the Centers.  The rest of the diet for all of the children was identical—what was typically served at the Center.

Children were weighed (in KG and lbs) at least monthly (whatever schedule the Center usually followed), and had their length (in cm and in.) measured once per month.  In addition, head circumference (in mm) and mid-upper arm circumference (in mm) (MUAC) was measured monthly.  MUAC was taken by measuring with a tape measure the length from the tip of the elbow (when the arm is bent) to the tip of the collarbone, the midpoint was marked and the circumference measurement taken at that point.  Each of the circumference measurements were done 3 times, recorded and then averaged for better accuracy.

Children were included in the study for up to 6 months—or as long as they were being treated in the Center.  The PFN provided the oatmeal and PF to use in the study, also a new length board was provided.  We also provided new measuring tapes.

After approximately two and half years, statistical analysis was done on the measurements which had been sent via spread sheets from Panama.  Sixty five children were included in the analysis.  When the two groups were compared, the children who had received Power Flour for 150 days (5 months) had gained an average of 5.0 lbs; those who had not received PF had gained 2.5 lbs.  This was statistically significant at the p< .01 level.  

Thus it was clear in this pilot project that using Power Flour had a very positive affect on the weight gains of these children. 

***High diastase malt flour is also known as Power Flour.  It has been tested for microbiological and chemical purity and is used in the U.S. food supply in beverages, cereals, baked goods and candies.  Power Flour has been sent to 55 different countries over the last ten years for use in refugee & feeding centers, orphanages and village settings.  The malt flour contains alpha-amylase and diastase, which are enzymes that digest complex carbohydrates. This happens very rapidly in a starchy cereal product such as oatmeal.  As the starch is digested it becomes sugar so that the resulting oatmeal product has a sweet taste.  Two additional advantages to using PF are that the thick cereal becomes a thinner, more liquid product, which can be more easily consumed by small children.  And, since there is some pre-digestion of the oatmeal by the enzymes, it should be more easily digested by the infant’s gastrointestinal tract.  The amylase is not active in the stomach because the high acidity there denatures the enzyme since amylase is a protein molecule.



Dr. Sondra King, Professor Emeritus

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb IL


Power Flour Action Network

 Tom Hartzell, President


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