HYDERABAD: A poor diet rather than low iron levels is leading to anaemia among children and adolescents, researchers from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) have found. Scientists from NIN, who assessed iron levels among children in rural and urban areas as found in the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey of 2016-18, found that rural children had higher iron levels and yet anaemia was more prevalent among them. An overall lack of a nutritious diet was the likely cause of inefficient utilisation of stored iron for haemoglobin synthesis, they deduced.
“The research has found that although anaemia prevalence was higher in rural and poorer children and adolescents; but counter-intuitively, iron deficiency was less common among this lot. Similarly, although anaemia as measured by haemoglobin status was lower among their urban counterparts, iron deficiency was seen more in them,” informed NIN. The study was published in the reputed Journal of Nutrition.
The study indicates that issues like quality of diet, infections and socio-economic factors are required to tackle the problem.
“Diet quality is important for efficient haemoglobin synthesis, as iron is not the only nutrient required. Therefore, the under-utilisation of iron for haemoglobin synthesis in poorer communities could be linked with overall low diet quality, particularly low intake of animal source foods and fruits,” said Dr Bharati Kulkarni, lead author.
NUTRITIOUS DIET A MUST
The NIN study found that rural children had higher iron levels and yet a higher prevalence of anaemia, for which lack of a nutritious diet was the likely cause