Food Fortification

Why Fortification ??

Fortification is adding vitamins and minerals to foods to prevent nutritional deficiencies. The nutrients regularly used in grain fortification prevent diseases, strengthen immune systems, and improve productivity and cognitive development.

Wheat flour, maize flour, and rice are primarily fortified to:

  1. Prevent nutritional anemia
  2. Prevent birth defects of the brain and spine
  3. Increase productivity
  4. Improve economic progress

In 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals; fortifying commonly eaten grains is a step toward addressing these.

Fortification is successful because it makes frequently eaten foods more nutritious without relying on consumers to change their habits.

The following 12 vitamins and minerals are used in flour and rice fortification globally. Each country sets standards to include the specific nutrients its population needs.

  • Iron, riboflavin, folic acid, zinc, and vitamin B12 help prevent nutritional anemia which improves productivity, maternal health, and cognitive development.
  • Folic acid (vitamin B9) reduces the risk of severe birth defects of the brain and spine.
  • Zinc helps children develop, strengthens immune systems, and lessens complications from diarrhea.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) prevents the skin disease known as pellagra.
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2) helps with metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1) prevents the nervous system disease called beriberi.
  • Vitamin B12 maintains functions of the brain and nervous system.
  • Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium which improves bone health.
  • Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of childhood blindness. It also diminishes an individual’s ability to fight infections. Vitamin A can be added to wheat or maize flour, but it is often added to rice, cooking oils, margarine, or sugar instead.
  • Calcium builds strong bones, helps transmit nerve messages and assists with muscle function and blood clotting. A few countries add calcium to flour, but it is more commonly added to other foods.
  • Selenium helps with reproduction and thyroid gland function.
  • Vitamin B6 is needed for enzyme reactions involved in metabolism.

Fortification as part of a country’s nutrition strategy is supported by global organizations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and Nutrition International. For the latest evidence and guidance on nutrition interventions, see the WHO e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA).

Source: Food Fortification Initiative

Malnutrition in India

Malnutrition is still a serious problem for India

‘India suffers from twin-problem of under-nutrition and obesity’

India is facing a serious burden of under-nutrition, according to a global report which shows that more than half the women of reproductive age in the country suffer from anaemia.

The Global Nutrition Report 2017, which looked at 140 countries including India, found ‘significant burdens’ of three important forms of malnutrition used as an indicator of broader trends.

These include childhood stunting, anaemia in women of reproductive age, and overweight adult women.

Latest figures show that 38 per cent of children under five are affected by stunting — children too short for their age due to lack of nutrients, suffering irreversible damage to brain capacity.

About 21 per cent of children under 5 are defined as ’wasted’ or ‘severely wasted’ — meaning they do not weigh enough for their height.

Over half of women of reproductive age — 51 per cent — suffer from anaemia — a serious condition that can have long-term health impacts for mother and child.

More than 22 per cent of adult women are overweight, a rising concern as women are disproportionately affected by the global obesity epidemic, according to the report.

While the country has shown some progress in addressing under-5 stunting, it has made no progress or presents worse outcomes in the percentage of reproductive-age women with anaemia, and is off course in terms of reaching targets for reducing adult obesity and diabetes, the report said.

“The Global Nutrition Report highlights that the double burden of under-nutrition and obesity needs to be tackled as part of India’s national nutrition strategy,” said Purnima Menon, independent expert group on the Global Nutrition Report.

“For under-nutrition, especially, major efforts are needed to close the inequality gap,” said Menon, Senior Research Fellow in the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s South Asia Office in New Delhi.

The Global Nutrition Report 2017 calls for nutrition to be placed at the heart of efforts to end poverty, fight disease, raise educational standards and tackle climate change.

“We know that a well-nourished child is one third more likely to escape poverty,” said Jessica Fanzo, Professor at Johns Hopkins University.

“They will learn better in school, be healthier and grow into productive contributors to their economies. Good nutrition provides the brainpower, the ‘grey matter infrastructure’ to build the economies of the future,” said Fanzo, also the Global Nutrition Report Co-Chair.

The report also found that 88 per cent of countries studied face a serious burden of two or three forms of malnutrition.

It highlights the damaging impact this burden is having on broader global development efforts.

The report found that overweight and obesity are on the rise in almost every country, with two billion of the world’s seven billion people now overweight or obese and a less than one per cent chance of meeting the global target of halting the rise in obesity and diabetes by 2025.

In India, 16 per cent of adult men and 22 per cent of adult women are overweight.

Source: www.thehindubusinessline.com