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PLoS One. 2019 Jan 10;14(1):e0210501. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210501. eCollection 2019.

Effectiveness of micronutrient-fortified rice consumption on anaemia and zinc status among vulnerable women in Bangladesh.

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icddr,b, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
United Nations World Food Programme, IDB Bhaban, Begum Rokeya Sarani, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


Micronutrient deficiency is one of the biggest public health concerns in Bangladesh. As per World Health Organisation (WHO) in the 2016 report, 40% women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia. According to the National Micronutrient Survey 2011-2012, 57% women suffer from zinc deficiency. The objective of the present study was to determine the effectiveness of fortified rice (FFR in addressing anaemia and zinc deficiency among vulnerable women. Baseline and endline surveys were conducted among female Vulnerable Group Development (VDG) beneficiaries in five districts in Bangladesh before and after 12 months of FFR distribution. The intervention group received 30 kg FFR; the control group received 30 kg non-FFR for every month from January 2013 to December 2013. The sample sizes were 870 women (435/group) at baseline and 800 (400/group) at endline. Difference-in-difference (DID) was estimated to measure the effect of FFR on anaemia and serum zinc. In the baseline survey, 39% of the FFR group and 34% of the non-FFR group had anaemia. At endline, 34% of women in the FFR group were anaemic compared to 40.7% in the non-FFR group. At endline, prevalence of anaemia was reduced in the FFR group by 4.8% but increased in the non-FFR group by 6.7%. The DID estimation showed the reduction in anaemia after 12 months of FFR consumption was significant (p = 0.035). The DID in mean haemoglobin level after 12 months of FFR consumption was also statistically significant (p = 0.002). Zinc deficiency decreased by 6% in the FFR group at endline, though the DID was not significant. Most of the respondents of the FFR group reported that they received their entitled rice on a regular basis however only half of the non-FFR respondents received every month in 12 months. Anaemia was significantly associated with not consuming fortified rice, geographical region, older age and heavy menstrual bleeding (P<0.05). FFR reduced anaemia and zinc deficiency prevalence. Replacement of regular rice with FFR in the VGD programme is recommended to reduce anaemia among vulnerable groups.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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