Micronutrient deficiencies, especially iron deficiency anaemia, are a public health problem in Egypt, where the prevalence of anaemia reaches about 40%. A national flour fortification project is planned for implementation in early 2008, to fortify wheat flour used for subsidised baladi bread with iron and folic acid aiming to reduce the prevalence of anaemia through increase iron and folate status of the Egyptian population. As a baseline for the fortification project, a field survey was conducted among 4526 households representing major six geographic regions of the country with the objective of assessing iron deficiency anaemia status, and dietary iron and bread consumption among the Egyptian population (mothers, preschool children, school children and adolescents).
Iron deficiency anaemia (low haemoglobin and low ferritin) was identified among 18.5% of all 12,023 participants surveyed, while 26.2% were classified as iron deficiency (low iron stores with normal haemoglobin). Mean daily dietary iron consumption values for mothers, preschool children, school aged children and adolescents were 17.2 mg, 8.3 mg, 10.9 mg and 12.4 mg respectively. The main dietary iron sources among Egyptian households were plant sources while only half of households consumed meat weekly. Finally, the majority of households (70%) purchased bread while the rest baked bread at home.