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The main indicator adopted to track universal salt iodization has been the coverage of adequately iodized salt in households. Rapid test kits (RTK) have been included in household surveys to test the iodine content in salt. However, laboratory studies of their performance have concluded that RTK are reliable only to distinguish between the presence and absence of iodine in salt, but not to determine whether salt is adequately iodized. The aim of the current paper was to examine the performance of RTK under field conditions and to recommend their most appropriate use in household surveys.
Standard performance characteristics of the ability of RTK to detect the iodine content in salt at 0 mg/kg (salt with no iodine), 5 mg/kg (salt with any added iodine) and 15 mg/kg (‘adequately’ iodized salt) were calculated. Our analysis employed the agreement rate (AR) as a preferred metric of RTK performance.
Twenty-five data sets from eighteen population surveys which assessed household iodized salt by both the RTK and a quantitative method (i.e. titration or WYD Checker) were obtained from Asian (nineteen data sets), African (five) and European (one) countries.
In detecting iodine in salt at 0 mg/kg, the RTK had an AR>90 % in eight of twenty-three surveys, while eight surveys had an AR<80 %. When the RTK was used for detecting adequately iodized salt, the AR decreased significantly, with only one of fourteen surveys achieving an AR>90 %.
The RTK is not suited for assessment of adequately iodized salt coverage. Quantitative assessment, such as by titration or WYD Checker, is necessary for estimates of adequately iodized salt coverage.
To examine the workings of the nutrition-related scientific advisory bodies in Europe, paying particular attention to the internal and external contexts within which they operate.
Desk research based on two data collection strategies: a questionnaire completed by key informants in the field of micronutrient recommendations and a case study that focused on mandatory folic acid (FA) fortification.
Questionnaire-based data were collected across thirty-five European countries. The FA fortification case study was conducted in the UK, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic and Hungary.
Varied bodies are responsible for setting micronutrient recommendations, each with different statutory and legal models of operation. Transparency is highest where there are standing scientific advisory committees (SAC). Where the standing SAC is created, the range of expertise and the terms of reference for the SAC are determined by the government. Where there is no dedicated SAC, the impetus for the development of micronutrient recommendations and the associated policies comes from interested specialists in the area. This is typically linked with an ad hoc selection of a problem area to consider, lack of openness and transparency in the decisions and over-reliance on international recommendations.
Even when there is consensus about the science behind micronutrient recommendations, there is a range of other influences that will affect decisions about the policy approaches to nutrition-related public health. This indicates the need to document the evidence that is drawn upon in the decisions about nutrition policy related to micronutrient intake.
Countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States made little progress in child nutrition and mortality between 1990 and 2005. The present paper assesses the nutritional status of children <5 years of age and discusses possible strategies for improvement.
Data on low birth weight, infant and young child feeding, underweight, overweight and micronutrient deficiencies were compiled from available reports and databases, complemented through questionnaires to UNICEF Country Offices, and analysed by country, age, gender, urban/rural residence, maternal education and wealth quintiles.
Exclusive breast-feeding in the first 6 months and continuing breast-feeding up to 2 years fall short of WHO and UNICEF recommendations. Complementary foods are introduced too early and may be poor in protein and micronutrients. Stunting and underweight are prevalent, especially in children aged 12 to 35 months; overweight is even more prevalent. Vitamin A and I deficiencies are still present in some countries, despite current control efforts. Anaemia ranges between 20 % and 40 %. Higher rates of malnutrition are found in rural areas, children of less educated mothers and lower-income families.
Current public health strategies should be redirected to address: (i) overall protection, promotion and support of infant and young child feeding, in addition to breast-feeding; (ii) overweight, in addition to underweight and stunting; and (iii) malnutrition as a whole, in addition to micronutrient deficiencies. An equity lens should be used in developing policies and plans and implementing and monitoring programmes. Capacity building, cross-sectoral action, improved data collection within adequate legal frameworks and community engagement should be the pillars of redirected strategies.
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