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Addressing Female Iron Deficiency Anaemia in India – is Vegetarianism the Major Obstacle?
Authors: Anu Rammohan, Niyi Awofeso, and Marie-Claire Robitaille
Source: ISRN Public Health, Volume 2012 (2012), doi:10.5402/2012/765476
Topic(s): Anemia
Iron supplements
Country: Asia
Published: FEB 2012
Abstract: ABSTRACT We examined the influence of vegetarian diet on the risk of developing anemia among Indian women, and suggest initiatives for addressing diet-related iron deficiency anemia, by analyzing diet, social class and hemoglobin data from the nationally representative Indian National Family and Health Survey 2005/06 (NFHS-3) for a sample of 81,301 women aged 15-49 years using logistic regression models. After controlling for individual-level factors and household-level socio-economic characteristics, we found the daily consumption of meat, fish and eggs was associated with lower odds of being moderately or severely anemic. Our analysis also revealed that economic characteristics such as being from higher wealth quintiles, being in paid employment, and rural residence reduced the odds of having iron-deficiency anemia among Indian women. Regular consumption of meat, fish and eggs significantly reduced the risk of anemia among Indian women. However, as a large proportion of Indians subsist on iron-poor vegetarian diets for religious, economic and cultural reasons, large-scale iron supplementation and fortification of commonly consumed vegetarian foodstuffs constitute a feasible, culturally appropriate and cost-effective strategy for addressing this major public health problem.