Potential impacts of iron biofortification in India


Stein, Alexander, Meenakshi, J.V., Qaim, Matin, Nestel, Pemelope, Sachdev, H.P.S. and Bhutta, Zulfiqar A. (2008) Potential impacts of iron biofortification in India. Social Science & Medicine, 66, (8), 1797-1808. (doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.01.006). (PMID:18291567).

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Description/Abstract

Iron deficiency is a widespread nutrition and health problem in developing countries, causing impairments in physical activity and cognitive development, as well as maternal mortality. Although food fortification and supplementation programmes have been effective in some countries, their overall success remains limited. Biofortification, that is, breeding food crops for higher micronutrient content, is a relatively new approach, which has been gaining international attention recently. We propose a methodology for ex ante impact assessment of iron biofortification, building on a disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) framework. This methodology is applied in an Indian context. Using a large and representative data set of household food consumption, the likely effects of iron-rich rice and wheat varieties are simulated for different target groups and regions. These varieties, which are being developed by an international public research consortium, based on conventional breeding techniques, might be ready for local distribution within the next couple of years. The results indicate sizeable potential health benefits. Depending on the underlying assumptions, the disease burden associated with iron deficiency could be reduced by 19–58%. Due to the relatively low institutional cost to reach the target population, the expected cost-effectiveness of iron biofortification compares favourably with other micronutrient interventions. Nonetheless, biofortification should not be seen as a substitute for other interventions. Each approach has its particular strengths, so they complement one another.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0277-9536 (print)
1873-5347 (electronic)
Keywords: iron deficiency, biofortification, DALYs, impact assessment, india, cost-effectiveness analysis
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
ePrint ID: 143257
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2010 09:11
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 19:05
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/143257

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