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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 313-320

Large-scale staple food fortification as a complementary strategy to address vitamin and mineral vulnerabilities in India: A critical review

1 Associate Professor, Advanced Eye Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh, India
2 Former Director, National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
3 Scientist “F”, Deputy Director-Sr Grade, Division of Public Health Nutrition, National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
4 Professor, Department of Foods and Nutrition, The M S University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat, India
5 Associate, Health and Nutrition Division, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), Sansad Marg, New Delhi, India
6 Assistant Professor, Department of Food & Nutrition and Food Technology, Institute of Home Economics, University of Delhi, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Mona Duggal
Advanced Eye Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.ijph_708_22

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The slow improvement in micronutrient malnutrition globally and in India warrants a need for scaling-up scientifically proven, cost-effective public health interventions. The present review discusses the potential of staple food fortification as a complementary strategy to tackle micronutrient deficiencies, while addressing the current concerns raised regarding its implementation. The review indicates the below par status of current strategies like dietary diversity and supplementation to address multiple micronutrients deficiencies in India and the need for complementary strategies to tackle this problem. Based on systematic reviews and meta-analysis, global and national evidence has identified staple food fortification as a proven and recognized cost-effective solution to address micronutrient deficiencies. The Government of India has shown a strong leadership to promote this proven intervention. Further, the paper addresses the concern that large-scale staple food fortification (LSFF) may lead to excessive nutrient intakes when delivered together with other interventions, e.g., supplementation, dietary diversity, among the same populations. A key message that emerges from this review is that LSFF is safe with current dietary intake and deficiencies and low coverage of other interventions. Given the current situation of food and nutrition insecurity which the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated, and the critical role that nutrition plays in building immunity, it is even more important that health and nutrition of the population, especially vulnerable age groups, is not only safeguarded but also strengthened. LSFF should be implemented without any further delay to reach the most vulnerable segments of the population to reduce the dietary nutrient gap and prevent micronutrient deficiencies. Effective monitoring and regular dietary surveys will help ensure these interventions are being deployed correctly.

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