Dietary calcium and zinc deficiency risks are decreasing but remain prevalent

Editor(s):
Kumssa DB et al

ABSTRACT

Deficiencies of micronutrients, particularly in children, remain a worldwide problem. Globally, more than 800 million people are undernourished, and >2 billion people have one or more chronic micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs). More than 6% of global mortality and morbidity burdens are associated with undernourishment and MNDs. Here we show that, in 2011, 3.5 and 1.1 billion people were at risk of calcium (Ca) and zinc (Zn) deficiency, respectively, due to inadequate dietary supply. The global mean dietary supply of Ca and Zn in 2011 was 684 ± 211 and 16 ± 3 mg capita−1 d−1 (±SD) respectively. Between 1992 and 2011, the global risk of deficiency of Ca and Zn decreased from 76 to 51%, and 22 to 16%, respectively. Approximately 90% of those at risk of Ca and Zn deficiency in 2011 were in Africa and Asia. To our knowledge, these are the first global estimates of dietary Ca deficiency risks based on food supply. We conclude that continuing to reduce Ca and Zn deficiency risks through dietary diversification and food and agricultural interventions, including fortification, crop breeding and use of micronutrient fertilisers, will remain a significant challenge.

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