Special Issue "Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2015).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Roland Kupka
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Guest Editor
Nutrition Section, Programme Division, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Three United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA
Dr. Yarlini Balarajan
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Guest Editor
Nutrition Section, Programme Division, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Three United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Micronutrient malnutrition affects an estimated two billion people worldwide and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. As with other forms of malnutrition, there are many gaps in data on the determinants, prevalence, and consequences of micronutrient deficiencies at national and subnational levels, as well as on program performance to address these deficiencies. These gaps impair efforts to adequately advocate for, and implement, effective control strategies. In this Special Issue, we present a series of manuscripts from low- and middle-income countries that present updated prevalence estimates of micronutrient deficiencies and related inequalities, associated economic costs, trends in determinants, and data on program performance. It is hoped that these papers will help in the design of effective and sustainable micronutrient deficiency control strategies in low- and middle-income countries, with a specific focus on population groups who are currently unreached.

Dr. Roland Kupka
Dr. Yarlini Balarajan
Guest Editors

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Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The High Prevalence of Anemia in Cambodian Children and Women Cannot Be Satisfactorily Explained by Nutritional Deficiencies or Hemoglobin Disorders
Nutrients 2016, 8(6), 348; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8060348 - 07 Jun 2016
Cited by 27
Abstract
Background: Anemia is highly prevalent in Cambodian women and children, but data on causes of anemia are scarce. We performed a national micronutrient survey in children and women that was linked to the Cambodian Demographic Health Survey 2014 (CDHS-2014) to assess the prevalence [...] Read more.
Background: Anemia is highly prevalent in Cambodian women and children, but data on causes of anemia are scarce. We performed a national micronutrient survey in children and women that was linked to the Cambodian Demographic Health Survey 2014 (CDHS-2014) to assess the prevalence of micronutrient deficiency, hemoglobin disorders and intestinal parasite infection. Methods: One-sixth of households from the CDHS-2014 were selected for a follow-up visit for the micronutrient survey. Households were visited from two weeks to two months after the CDHS-2014 visit. Data on micronutrient status were available for 1512 subjects (792 children and 720 women). Results: Anemia was found in 43% of the women and 53% of the children. Hemoglobin disorders affected >50% of the population, with Hemoglobin-E the most prevalent disorder. Deficiencies of iron (ferritin < 15 g/L), vitamin A (retinol-binding-protein (RBP) < 0.70 mol/L) or vitamin B12 (<150 pmol/L) were not prevalent in the women (<5% for all), whereas 17.8% of the women had low concentrations of folic acid (<10 nmol/L). In the children, the prevalence of iron, vitamin A, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency was <10%. Zinc deficiency, hookworm infection and hemoglobinopathy were significantly associated with anemia in children, whereas in the women none of the factors was significantly associated with anemia. Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) was more prevalent in children <2 years, but in older children and women, the prevalence of IDA was <5%. The most prevalent, preventable causes of anemia were hookworm infection and zinc and folic acid deficiency. Over 40% of the anemia was not caused by nutritional factors. Conclusion: The very high prevalence of anemia in Cambodian women and children cannot be explained solely by micronutrient deficiencies and hemoglobin disorders. Micronutrient interventions to improve anemia prevalence are likely to have limited impact in the Cambodian setting. The focus of current interventions to reduce the high prevalence of anemia in children and women should be broadened to include zinc and folic acid as well as effective anti-hookworm measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Persistent Inequalities in Child Undernutrition in Cambodia from 2000 until Today
Nutrients 2016, 8(5), 297; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8050297 - 16 May 2016
Cited by 10Correction
Abstract
The study assessed the trends of nutritional status of children under age five in Cambodia over four DHS surveys from 2000 to 2014 and the contribution of socioeconomic and demographic factors to its changes. Undernutrition was a public health problem in all surveys. [...] Read more.
The study assessed the trends of nutritional status of children under age five in Cambodia over four DHS surveys from 2000 to 2014 and the contribution of socioeconomic and demographic factors to its changes. Undernutrition was a public health problem in all surveys. Despite consistent improvement over the years, stunting still affected 32.5% of children in 2014. Wasting prevalence did not improve since 2005 and affected 9.6% of children under five in 2014. Low wealth and mother education; and rural residence contributed to undernutrition. In 2014; wealth status was the main socioeconomic factor associated with undernutrition and the nutritional status of children was strongly related to that of their mothers. Anemia prevalence was high and after a decrease between 2000 and 2005 remained at 45%. The prevalence of overweight was less than 10% and did not change over the years despite an increasing trend in the richest households of urban areas. Persistent inequalities in child undernutrition call for action, giving priority to the most vulnerable households to ensure availability and access to nutrient-rich foods for women and children through nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific programs. The recent increase of overweight in the richest populations must also be considered in Cambodian health policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
The Economic Burden of Malnutrition in Pregnant Women and Children under 5 Years of Age in Cambodia
Nutrients 2016, 8(5), 292; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8050292 - 14 May 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
Malnutrition is locked in a vicious cycle of increased mortality, poor health, impaired cognitive development, slow physical growth, reduced learning capacity, inferior performance, and ultimately lower adult work performance and productivity. The consensus of global scientific evidence indicates that lowering the rates of [...] Read more.
Malnutrition is locked in a vicious cycle of increased mortality, poor health, impaired cognitive development, slow physical growth, reduced learning capacity, inferior performance, and ultimately lower adult work performance and productivity. The consensus of global scientific evidence indicates that lowering the rates of malnutrition will be an indispensable component of any successful program to raise the quality of human capital and resources. This study used a “consequence model” to apply the coefficient risk-deficit on economic losses, established in the global scientific literature, to Cambodian health, demographic, and economic data to develop a national estimate of the value of economic losses due to malnutrition. The impact of the indicators of malnutrition analyzed represent a burden to the national economy of Cambodia estimated at 266 million USD annually (1.7% of GDP). Stunting is reducing the Cambodian economic output by more than 120 million USD, and iodine deficiency disorders alone by 57 million USD. This economic burden is too high in view of Cambodia’s efforts to drive economic development. The government should rapidly expand a range of low-cost effective nutrition interventions to break the current cycle of increased mortality, poor health and ultimately lower work performance, productivity, and earnings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in Cambodian Women: A Common Deficiency in a Sunny Country
Nutrients 2016, 8(5), 290; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8050290 - 12 May 2016
Cited by 10
Abstract
Recent studies have shown that in spite of being generally close to the equator; vitamin D deficiency is common in South East Asian countries. In order to quantify micronutrient status for women and children in Cambodia; a nationally-representative survey was conducted in 2014 [...] Read more.
Recent studies have shown that in spite of being generally close to the equator; vitamin D deficiency is common in South East Asian countries. In order to quantify micronutrient status for women and children in Cambodia; a nationally-representative survey was conducted in 2014 linked to the Cambodian Demographic Health Survey. The countrywide median of 25(OH)D was, respectively, 64.9 and 91.1 nmol/L for mothers and children. Based on The Endocrine Society cutoffs (>50<75 nmol/L = insufficiency; ≤50 nmol/L = deficiency); 64.6% of mothers and 34.8% of their children had plasma vitamin D concentrations indicating insufficiency or deficiency. For deficiency alone, 29% of the mothers were found to be vitamin D deficient, but only 13.4% of children. Children who live in urban areas had a 43% higher rate of vitamin D insufficiency versus those who live in rural areas (OR; 1.434; 95% CI: 1.007; 2.041). However, such differences were not observed in their mothers. The high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is likely in part due to lifestyle choices, including sun avoidance, increasingly predominant indoor work, and covered transport. These survey findings support the need for a broader national Cambodian study incorporating testing of adult men, adolescents and the elderly, and encompassing other parameters such as skeletal health. However, the data presented in this study already show significant deficiencies which need to be addressed and we discuss the benefit of establishing nationally-mandated food fortification programs to enhance the intake of vitamin D. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
Open AccessArticle
A Delivery Model for Home Fortification of Complementary Foods with Micronutrient Powders: Innovation in the Context of Vietnamese Health System Strengthening
Nutrients 2016, 8(5), 259; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8050259 - 29 Apr 2016
Cited by 14
Abstract
Adding micronutrient powders (MNP) to complementary foods at the point of preparation (home fortification) can improve micronutrient status of young children. Ensuring sustained access to MNPs at scale, however, remains challenging in many countries. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) partnered with [...] Read more.
Adding micronutrient powders (MNP) to complementary foods at the point of preparation (home fortification) can improve micronutrient status of young children. Ensuring sustained access to MNPs at scale, however, remains challenging in many countries. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) partnered with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in Vietnam to pioneer the distribution of a locally-produced MNP, provided for sale through the public health system with counseling on optimal infant and young child feeding practices by trained health workers. Different packaging options were available to adapt to caregivers’ disposable income. During the six-month pilot, 1.5 million sachets were sold through 337 health centers across four provinces, targeting children 6–59 months of age. Sales were routinely monitored, and a cross-sectional survey in 32 communes for caregivers (n = 962) and health staff (n = 120) assessed MNP coverage and compliance, five months after the start of distribution. A total of 404 caregivers among the 962 caregivers surveyed (i.e., 42%) had visited the health center in the past year. Among them, 290 caregivers had heard about the product and a total of 217caregivers had given the MNP to their child at least once, representing a conversion rate from product awareness to product trial of 74.8%. The effective coverage (i.e., consumption of ≥3 sachets/child/week) was 11.5% among the total surveyed caregivers and reached 27.3% amongst caregivers who visited health centers in the previous month. The MNP purchase trends showed that the number of sachets bought by caregivers was positively correlated with the wealth index. The pilot showed that providing MNPs for sale in packs of various quantities, combined with infant and young child feeding (IYCF) counseling at the health center, is effective for groups accessing the health system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Inequalities in Nutrition between Cambodian Women over the Last 15 Years (2000–2014)
Nutrients 2016, 8(4), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8040224 - 19 Apr 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
This study aimed to describe the trends over four nationally representative Demographic Health Surveys (2000, 2005, 2010, and 2014) of the nutritional status of women of reproductive age in Cambodia and to assess the main factors of inequality with regards to nutrition. The [...] Read more.
This study aimed to describe the trends over four nationally representative Demographic Health Surveys (2000, 2005, 2010, and 2014) of the nutritional status of women of reproductive age in Cambodia and to assess the main factors of inequality with regards to nutrition. The prevalence of undernutrition and over-nutrition evolved in opposite trends from 2000 to 2014, with a significant decrease in underweight and a significant increase in overweight women. This results in a shift, with overweight prevalence in women being higher than underweight for the first time in 2014. Anemia was constantly high and still affected 45% of women in 2014. Multivariate analysis showed that age, wealth index, maternal education, number of children, year of survey, and anemia were contributing factors for being underweight. Being overweight was positively related to increase in age, wealth index, number of children, and year of survey; and negatively related to anemia and increase in education level. The risk of anemia was higher in the poorest households and for less-educated women and women living in rural areas. Consequently, policies should target the most vulnerable women, especially the youngest, and support integrated interventions in the health, social, and agriculture sectors to reduce inequalities in nutrition between women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Low Urinary Iodine Concentration among Mothers and Children in Cambodia
Nutrients 2016, 8(4), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8040172 - 05 Apr 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
A 2014 national assessment of salt iodization coverage in Cambodia found that 62% of samples were non-iodized, suggesting a significant decline in daily iodine intakes. The Cambodian Micronutrient Survey conducted in 2014 (CMNS-2014) permitted obtaining national data on urinary iodine concentrations (UIC) to [...] Read more.
A 2014 national assessment of salt iodization coverage in Cambodia found that 62% of samples were non-iodized, suggesting a significant decline in daily iodine intakes. The Cambodian Micronutrient Survey conducted in 2014 (CMNS-2014) permitted obtaining national data on urinary iodine concentrations (UIC) to assess iodine status and whether iodized salt use had an impact. Urine samples were collected from mothers (n = 736) and children (n = 950). The median UIC was 63 µg/L and 72 µg/L in mothers and children respectively. More than 60% of mothers and their children had a UIC < 100 µg/L, thereby indicating a serious public health problem. Iodine status was significantly lower among mothers and children living in rural areas, belonging to the poorest socioeconomic category, or living in a household not using iodized salt. The limited enforcement of the legislation for iodized salt has resulted in a major decrease in the prevalence of iodized salt, which in turn has compromised iodine status in Cambodia. It is essential for the government to enhance enforcement of the iodized salt legislation, and implement short term strategies, such as iodine supplementation, to prevent an increase of severe complications due to iodine deficiency in the Cambodian population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
Open AccessArticle
Low Prevalence of Iron and Vitamin A Deficiency among Cambodian Women of Reproductive Age
Nutrients 2016, 8(4), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8040197 - 01 Apr 2016
Cited by 8
Abstract
Nearly half of women of reproductive age (WRA) in Cambodia are anemic. To guide interventions, national data on nutritional causes of anemia, including iron deficiency and vitamin A deficiency, are needed. In 2012, a national household survey in WRA on antibodies to routine [...] Read more.
Nearly half of women of reproductive age (WRA) in Cambodia are anemic. To guide interventions, national data on nutritional causes of anemia, including iron deficiency and vitamin A deficiency, are needed. In 2012, a national household survey in WRA on antibodies to routine vaccine-preventable disease immunity was performed. We used serum samples from this survey to estimate the prevalence of iron and vitamin A deficiency in 2112 Cambodian WRA, aged 15 to 39 years. Iron deficiency was classified as low or marginal iron stores (ferritin concentrations corrected for inflammation <15 μg/L and <50 μg/L respectively; Fer), iron deficient erythropoiesis (soluble transferrin receptor concentrations >8.3 mg/L; sTfR), or low total body iron (TBI) derived from Fer and sTfR concentrations (<0 mg/kg). Vitamin A status was classified using retinol binding protein (RBP) concentrations corrected for inflammation as deficient (<0.70 μmol/L) or marginal (<1.05 μmol/L. Overall, the prevalence of low iron stores, low TBI and iron deficient erythropoiesis was 8.1%, 5.0% and 9.3% respectively. Almost 40% of the women had marginal iron stores. Iron status was better in women living in urban areas compared to rural areas (p < 0.05 for TBI and sTfR). The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency was <1%. These findings suggest that the contribution of iron and vitamin A deficiency to the high prevalence of anemia in Cambodian WRA may be limited. The etiology of anemia in Cambodia needs to be elucidated further to guide current policies on anemia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
Open AccessArticle
Beyond Effectiveness—The Adversities of Implementing a Fortification Program. A Case Study on the Quality of Iron Fortification of Fish and Soy Sauce in Cambodia
Nutrients 2016, 8(2), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020094 - 17 Feb 2016
Cited by 3
Abstract
Fortification of fish and soy sauces is a cost-effective strategy to deliver and increase iron intake in the Cambodian diet, as both are widely consumed by the entire population. In order to qualify as fortified sauces recognized by international regulations, iron content must [...] Read more.
Fortification of fish and soy sauces is a cost-effective strategy to deliver and increase iron intake in the Cambodian diet, as both are widely consumed by the entire population. In order to qualify as fortified sauces recognized by international regulations, iron content must be between 230 and 460 mg/L, whilst nitrogen and salt should contain no less than 10 g/L and 200 g/L respectively. This survey aims to analyze the progress of the fortification program. Through a better understanding of its obstacles and successes, the paper will then consider approaches to strengthen the program. Two hundred and fifty two samples were collected from 186 plants and 66 markets in various provinces. They were then analyzed for iron, nitrogen and salt content. The study demonstrates that 74% of fortified fish and soy sauces comply with Cambodian regulations on iron content. 87% and 53.6% of the collected samples do not have adequate level of nitrogen and salt content, respectively. The paper will discuss additional efforts that need to be implemented to ensure the sustainability of the project, including the need to: (i) comply with International Codex; (ii) adopt mandatory legislation; and (iii) ensure enforcement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Iodine Status of Women of Reproductive Age in Sierra Leone and Its Association with Household Coverage with Adequately Iodized Salt
Nutrients 2016, 8(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020074 - 03 Feb 2016
Cited by 7
Abstract
Salt iodization programs are a public health success in tackling iodine deficiency. Yet, a large proportion of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency. In a nationally representative cross-sectional survey in Sierra Leone, household salt samples and women’s urine samples were [...] Read more.
Salt iodization programs are a public health success in tackling iodine deficiency. Yet, a large proportion of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency. In a nationally representative cross-sectional survey in Sierra Leone, household salt samples and women’s urine samples were quantitatively analyzed for iodine content. Salt was collected from 1123 households, and urine samples from 817 non-pregnant and 154 pregnant women. Household coverage with adequately iodized salt (≥15 mg/kg iodine) was 80.7%. The median urinary iodine concentration (UIC) of pregnant women was 175.8 µg/L and of non-pregnant women 190.8 µg/L. Women living in households with adequately iodized salt had higher median UIC (for pregnant women: 180.6 µg/L vs. 100.8 µg/L, respectively, p < 0.05; and for non-pregnant women: 211.3 µg/L vs. 97.8 µg/L, p < 0.001). Differences in UIC by residence, region, household wealth, and women’s education were much smaller in women living in households with adequately iodized salt than in households without. Despite the high household coverage of iodized salt in Sierra Leone, it is important to reach the 20% of households not consuming adequately iodized salt. Salt iodization has the potential for increasing equity in iodine status even with the persistence of other risk factors for deficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Stability of Vitamin A, Iron and Zinc in Fortified Rice during Storage and Its Impact on Future National Standards and Programs—Case Study in Cambodia
Nutrients 2016, 8(1), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8010051 - 16 Jan 2016
Cited by 5
Abstract
Fortified rice holds great potential for bringing essential micronutrients to a large part of the world population. The present study quantified the losses of three different micronutrients (vitamin A, iron, zinc) in fortified rice that were produced using three different techniques (hot extrusion, [...] Read more.
Fortified rice holds great potential for bringing essential micronutrients to a large part of the world population. The present study quantified the losses of three different micronutrients (vitamin A, iron, zinc) in fortified rice that were produced using three different techniques (hot extrusion, cold extrusion, and coating) and stored at two different environments (25 ± 5 °C at a humidity of 60% and 40 ± 5 °C at a humidity of 75%) for up to one year. Fortified rice premix from the different techniques was mixed with normal rice in a 1:100 ratio. Each sample was analyzed in triplicate. The study confirmed the high stability of iron and zinc during storage while the retention of vitamin A was significantly affected by storage and the type of techniques used to make rice premix. Losses for iron and zinc were typically <10% for any type of rice premix. After 12 months at mild conditions (25 °C and humidity of 60%), losses for vitamin A ranged from 20% for cold extrusion, 30% for hot extruded rice 77% for coated rice premix. At higher temperatures and humidity, losses of vitamin A were 40%–50% for extruded premix and 93% for coated premix after 6 months. We conclude that storage does lead to a major loss of vitamin A and question whether rice is a suitable food vehicle to fortify with vitamin A. For Cambodia, fortification of rice with iron and zinc could be an effective strategy to improve the micronutrient status of the population if no other food vehicles are available. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
Open AccessArticle
An Assessment of the Potential Impact of Fortification of Staples and Condiments on Micronutrient Intake of Young Children and Women of Reproductive Age in Bangladesh
Nutrients 2015, 7(12), 9960-9971; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7125511 - 02 Dec 2015
Cited by 8Retraction
Abstract
Bangladesh has experienced rapid economic growth and achieved major health improvements in the past decade, but malnutrition rates remain high. A nationally representative study conducted in 2011 assessed the dietary habits of 841 children 24–59 months old; 1428 children 6–14 years old; and [...] Read more.
Bangladesh has experienced rapid economic growth and achieved major health improvements in the past decade, but malnutrition rates remain high. A nationally representative study conducted in 2011 assessed the dietary habits of 841 children 24–59 months old; 1428 children 6–14 years old; and 1412 non-pregnant, non-lactating women. The study’s objective was to assess dietary intakes of key micronutrients and the consumption pattern of potentially fortifiable foods, and then to model the potential impact of fortification of key staple foods. The current intakes of several micronutrients, namely, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin A and vitamin B12, were found to be insufficient to meet the needs of Bangladesh’s children and women. The fortification of rice with iron and zinc and edible oil with vitamin A has the potential to fill a significant part of the nutrient gap, as these are consumed widely and in significant amounts. Wheat flour and sugar are not as promising food vehicles in the Bangladeshi context, as they were consumed by a smaller portion of the population and in smaller amounts. In conclusion, fortification of rice and oil is recommended to address the large gap in micronutrient intakes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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Open AccessArticle
Increasing Awareness and Use of Iodised Salt in a Marginalised Community Setting in North-West Pakistan
Nutrients 2015, 7(11), 9672-9682; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7115490 - 23 Nov 2015
Cited by 7
Abstract
Iodine deficiency is still prevalent in parts of Pakistan, despite the introduction of a national Iodine Deficiency Disorder Control Programme in 1994. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and practice regarding the use of iodised [...] Read more.
Iodine deficiency is still prevalent in parts of Pakistan, despite the introduction of a national Iodine Deficiency Disorder Control Programme in 1994. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and practice regarding the use of iodised salt in a brick kiln community, and to use this information to design an intervention to increase its consumption. A cross-sectional survey was used to assess the use of iodised salt and focus group discussions explored the attitudes and barriers to its use. Thematically analysed transcripts informed the design of a 4-month intervention. Iodised salt sales and urine iodine concentration (UIC) were monitored to assess the effectiveness of the intervention. At baseline, 2.6% of households reported use of iodised salt and barriers included its higher cost and belief about a negative impact on reproduction. During the intervention, sales of salt labelled as iodised increased by 45%, however this was not reflected in an increase in UIC. This study highlighted the positive impact of education and awareness raising on iodised salt consumption in a hard to reach, marginalised community. However, issues regarding adequate iodisation by local producers and appropriate storage also need to be urgently addressed at a provincial level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nutrients and National Strategies to Impact Health)
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