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Bouillon cubes are widely consumed by poor households in sub-Saharan Africa. Because their main ingredient is salt, bouillon cubes could be a good source of iodine if iodized salt is used in their production and if their consumption by target groups is high. Our objective was to measure the iodine content of bouillon cubes, estimate their daily intake in school-aged children and evaluate their potential contribution to iodine intakes.
In a cross-sectional study, we measured urinary iodine concentrations (UIC) and estimated total daily iodine intakes. We administered a questionnaire on usage of bouillon cubes. We measured the iodine content of bouillon cubes, household salt, drinking-water and milk products.
Primary schools in northern Ghana.
Schoolchildren aged 6–13 years.
Among school-aged children (n 250), median (interquartile range) UIC and estimated iodine intake were 242 (163–365) µg/l and 129 (85–221) µg/d, indicating adequate iodine status. Median household salt iodine concentration (n 100) was only 2·0 (0·83–7·4) µg/g; 72 % of samples contained <5 µg iodine/g. Iodine concentrations in drinking-water and milk-based drinks were negligible. Median iodine content of bouillon cubes was 31·8 (26·8–43·7) µg/g, with large differences between brands. Estimated median per capita consumption of bouillon cubes was 2·4 (1·5–3·3) g/d and median iodine intake from bouillon cubes was 88 (51–110) µg/d.
Despite low household coverage with iodized salt, iodine nutrition in school-aged children is adequate and an estimated two-thirds of their dietary iodine is obtained from bouillon cubes.
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