TitleCommunity-Level Micronutrient Fortification of School Lunch Meals Improved Vitamin A, Folate, and Iron Status of Schoolchildren in Himalayan Villages of India
AuthorsOsei A. K., Rosenberg I. H., Houser R. F., Bulusu S., Mathews M., Hamer D. H.
PublicationJ Nutr. 2010 Apr; 140(6):1146-54.
AbstractAnemia and micronutrient deficiencies are common among Indian schoolchildren. We assessed the effectiveness of micronutrient fortification of meals cooked and fortified at school on anemia and micronutrient status of schoolchildren in Himalayan villages of India. In this placebo-controlled, cluster-randomized study, 499 schoolchildren (6-10 y) received either multiple micronutrients (treatment group) or placebo (control group) as part of school meals (6 d/wk) for 8 mo. Both groups were dewormed at the beginning of the study. The micronutrient premix provided 10 mg iron, 375 microg vitamin A, 4.2 mg zinc, 225 microg folic acid, and 1.35 microg vitamin B-12 for each child per day (approximately 75% recommended dietary allowance). Blood samples drawn before and after the intervention were analyzed for hemoglobin, ferritin, retinol, zinc, folate, and vitamin B-12. Baseline prevalence of anemia (37%), iron deficiency anemia (10%), low serum ferritin (24%), retinol (56%), zinc (74%), folate (68%), and vitamin B-12 (17%) did not differ between groups. Postintervention, fewer in the treatment group had lower serum retinol [odds ratio (OR) (95% CI): 0.57 (0.33-0.97)] and folate [OR (95% CI): 0.47 (0.26-0.84)] than the control group. The serum vitamin B-12 concentration decreased in both groups, but the magnitude of change was less in the treatment than in the control group (P < 0.05). Total body iron (TBI) increased in both groups; however, the change was greater in the treatment than in the control group (P < 0.05). Micronutrient fortification of school meals by trained school personnel was effective in improving vitamin A, folate, and TBI status while also reducing the magnitude of a decrease in vitamin B-12 status.