Double fortified salt intervention improved iron intake but not energy and other nutrient intakes in female tea plantation workers from West Bengal, India


Background: Iron deficiency is a global public health concern and has implications on the health status of women in reproductive age.

Objective: We hypothesized that improving iron intake with double fortified salt would improve food intake, resulting in higher energy, nutrient intakes, and weight indicators of female tea plantation workers.

Methods: In this randomized double-masked study, the participants (n = 245) were assigned to receive salt double fortified with iron and iodine (DFS; treatment) or salt fortified with iodine (control) and followed for 7.5 to 9 months. Dietary intakes were measured at three time points, baseline, midpoint, and end line using (1) food frequency questionnaire, (2) 24-hour recall, and (3) weighed lunch intake. Anthropometric measures of height (cm), weight (kg), and mid-upper arm circumference (cm) were also recorded at three time points. Mixed-model repeated-measures approach was used to detect group differences across time.

Results: Double fortified salt improved dietary iron intake in the treatment group compared to the control group (P < .001). No other dietary or anthropometric differences could be attributed to treatment. Significant effect of time was observed in the intake frequency of major food groups and calcium, vitamin A and C (P <.001 for all), suggesting an equal effect of seasonality in both the groups.

Conclusion: Addition of DFS in the diet improved dietary iron intake but did not affect the intake of energy, other nutrients, or nutritional status indicators. The improvement observed in the dietary iron intake demonstrates that fortification is an effective strategy to address iron deficiency in at-risk populations.

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