At every life stage, micronutrients are crucial to immune system function and resilience to infectious disease. This brief makes the case for large scale staple food fortification as a critically important tool to fight malnutrition in general, and even more so during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Lack of diversity in many people’s diets means that more than two billion people globally are deficient in at least one micronutrient, which has a transversal impact on individuals, communities, and nations. It is within this context that GAIN’s Large Scale Food Fortification (LSFF) portfolio of projects, which operate both at national and global levels, has been deployed, with the aim of increasing micronutrient intakes through the addition of bioavailable micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to commonly consumed foods.
This study responds to earlier findings of suboptimal compliance with mandatory fortification of edible oil in Bangladesh. We aim to explain the root causes of poor compliance and to provide recommendations to strengthen the national fortification programme in Bangladesh and other similar contexts.
Biofortification of staple crops has the potential to increase nutrient intakes and improve health outcomes. Despite program data on the number of farming households reached with and growing biofortified crops, information on the coverage of biofortified foods in the general population is often lacking. Such information is needed to ascertain potential for impact and identify bottlenecks to parts of the impact pathway.
Dietary intake data are required to design, monitor, and evaluate nutrition programmes and policies; however, current dietary assessment methods are complex, time consuming, and costly. Recently, GAIN developed a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (SQ-FFQ) that can be used in coverage surveys to estimate the amount of fortified and biofortified foods consumed and their contributions to nutrient intakes.
Food fortification is implemented to increase intakes of specific nutrients in the diet, but contributions of fortified foods to nutrient intakes are rarely quantified.
Through funding from BESTSELLER, GAIN worked in the states of Karnataka and Bihar in India, to improve the nutrition and lives of groups of semi-literate women and children. GAIN equipped women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) to produce nutritious food rations.
Large-scale food fortification (LSFF) is a cost-effective intervention that is widely implemented, but there is scope to further increase its potential. To identify gaps and opportunities, we first accessed the Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx) to identify countries that could benefit from new fortification programs.
In 2017, a cross-sectional survey, comprised of a household and market in two states (Ebonyi and Sokoto) was conducted using the Fortification Assessment Coverage Toolkit (FACT). The aim of the survey was to provide information on household coverage and consumption of fortifiable and fortified foods among children and women of reproductive age, and availability and quality of fortified foods from markets.
The FACT provides details on how to plan, design, implement, analyse, and report a FACT survey. It was designed to help stakeholders collect, analyse, and synthesise standardised data on quality, coverage, and consumption of fortified foods, and fills a gap in the availability of standardised tools to generate information to understand how well programmes are working and how to improve them.