From diets to foods: Using linear programming to formulate a nutritious, minimum-cost porridge mix for children aged 1 to 2 years

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background. Linear programming has been used extensively as a tool for nutritional recommendations. Extending the methodology to food formulation presents new challenges, since not all combinations of nutritious ingredients will produce an acceptable food. Furthermore, it would help in implementation and in ensuring the feasibility of the suggested recommendations. Objective. To extend the previously used linear programming methodology from diet optimization to food formulation using consistency constraints. In addition, to exemplify usability using the case of a porridge mix formulation for emergency situations in rural Mozambique. Methods. The linear programming method was extended with a consistency constraint based on previously published empirical studies on swelling of starch in soft porridges. The new method was exemplified using the formulation of a nutritious, minimum-cost porridge mix for children aged 1 to 2 years for use as a complete relief food, based primarily on local ingredients, in rural Mozambique. Results. A nutritious porridge fulfilling the consistency constraints was found; however, the minimum cost was unfeasible with local ingredients only. This illustrates the challenges in formulating nutritious yet economically feasible foods from local ingredients. The high cost was caused by the high cost of mineral-rich foods. A nutritious, low-cost porridge that fulfills the consistency constraints was obtained by including supplements of zinc and calcium salts as ingredients. Conclusions. The optimizations were successful in fulfilling all constraints and provided a feasible porridge, showing that the extended constrained linear programming methodology provides a systematic tool for designing nutritious foods.


External organisations
  • Eduardo Mondlane University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Food Engineering
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Child malnourishment, consistency, emergency nutrition rations, linear, programming, micronutrient inadequacy, Mozambique
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
JournalFood and Nutrition Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch