March 08, 2017

09/03/2017: Fortification investment

by Stephanie Santana, FFI Graduate Research Assistant, Emory University

‘Childhood Anemia is associated with a 2.5 percent drop in wages in adulthood’

Without testing, it is impossible to know whether flour has been fortified. Flour with added vitamins and minerals will smell, look, and bake exactly the same as unfortified flour.

However, whilst these ingredients may be invisible, their profound positive effects are very much tangible for millions of people who consume baked goods every day.
 


The nutrients, such as iron and folic acid, yield healthier individuals, especially mothers and babies, and lead an economically strong society as well.

For years, researchers have highlighted the financial benefits of interventions to increase a population’s vitamin and mineral intake. In 2008, Nobel laureate economists suggested that the most effective investment in fighting hunger was food fortification and supplements.

The 2012 Copenhagen Consensus, a conference that sought to shape development spending in addressing some of the world’s biggest problems, found similar sentiments. According to the Consensus, each dollar spent on reducing chronic under-nutrition yields a $30 payoff.

How do these financial benefits occur?
First, consider iron. People who suffer from iron deficiency anemia experience lethargy as a result of low hemoglobin in their blood cells.

Less energy causes decreased productivity; anemia is estimated to contribute to five percent lower productivity for light work and 17 percent lower productivity for heavy manual labor. Decreased productivity could yield loss of income on the individual level, resulting in loss of overall country capital at the societal level.

Additional economic loss comes from iron deficiency among children. This inhibits cognitive development, which in turn limits future earnings.

Consequently childhood anemia is associated with a 2.5 percent drop in wages in adulthood.

Iron
Adding iron to flour can prevent many of the problems associated with iron deficiency anemia. Fortification led to a 27 percent reduction of anemia in Kuwait among adult women and a 45 percent reduction in Costa Rica.

An early study of the connection between working productivity and iron status was in 1979 in Sri Lanka. It found that after one month, workers who had received iron treatment could pick 0.3 kilograms of tea a day, which was significantly greater than the quantity of tea picked by those who received placebos.

Nutrition is such an important factor for economic progress that it is stated in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. The goals call for ending all forms of malnutrition by the year 2030, noting that ending malnutrition is an important factor for economic development.


Read the full article HERE.
 

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine Milling and Grain
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.


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