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J Nutr. 2002 Apr;132(4 Suppl):794S-801S.

Reversing productivity losses from iron deficiency: the economic case.

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  • Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines. jhunt@adb.org

Abstract

Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) depresses human productivity, but policymakers do not generally view this effect as an impediment to sustained economic growth. Economic logic should be enfolded in public advocacy for increased investment in the prevention and control of IDA. This paper argues that integrated strategies are required, with each intervention clearly related to particular groups at risk, and benefits carefully calibrated with costs. Protecting women's lives through supplementation has the first call on public resources, but the most productive investments reduce population prevalence at least cost, and these lie with food-based approaches within the competence of the processed food and seed industries. The public and private sectors must embark on modernization of the food industry in developing countries and reorientation of the international agricultural research complex so that iron-enriched essential foods will be affordable and accessible to the poor, especially children. The costs of IDA, the availability of cost-effective strategies and the benefits of sustained iron nutrition improvement to individuals, families and nations are reviewed. The roles of iron supplementation, food fortification, plant breeding and biotechnology, both actual and imminent, are described. The paper concludes that a recast Green Revolution directed toward dietary quality may be the key to enhancing the learning and earning capacity of young people in the developing world.

PMID:
11925484
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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