Extruded rice fortified with micronized ground ferric pyrophosphate reduces iron deficiency in Indian schoolchildren: a double-blind randomized controlled trial

Diego Moretti, Michael B Zimmermann, Sumithra Muthayya, Prashanth Thankachan, Tung-Ching Lee, Anura V Kurpad, Richard F Hurrell
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006, 84 (4): 822-9

BACKGROUND: Iron fortification of rice could be an effective strategy for reducing iron deficiency anemia in South Asia.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine whether extruded rice grains fortified with micronized ground ferric pyrophosphate (MGFP) would increase body iron stores in children.

DESIGN: In a double-blind, 7-mo, school-based feeding trial in Bangalore, India, iron-depleted, 6-13-y-old children (n = 184) were randomly assigned to receive either a rice-based lunch meal fortified with 20 mg Fe as MGFP or an identical but unfortified control meal. The meals were consumed under direct supervision, and daily leftovers were weighed. All children were dewormed at baseline and at 3.5 mo. Iron status and hemoglobin were measured at baseline, 3.5 mo, and 7 mo.

RESULTS: At baseline, the prevalences of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in the total sample were 78% and 29%, respectively. After 7 mo of feeding, there was a significant increase in body iron stores in both study groups (P < 0.001), with a greater increase in the iron group than in the control group (P < 0.05). There was a significant time x treatment interaction for iron deficiency, which fell from 78% to 25% in the dewormed iron group and from 79% to 49% in the dewormed control group. Iron deficiency anemia decreased from 30% to 15% (NS) in the iron group but remained virtually unchanged in the control group (28% and 27%). In sensory tests, the MGFP-fortified rice (fortified at 3 and 5 mg Fe/100 g) was indistinguishable from natural rice, in both cooked and uncooked form.

CONCLUSIONS: Extruded rice fortified with MGFP has excellent sensory characteristics. Fed in a school lunch meal, it increases iron stores and reduces the prevalence of iron deficiency in Indian children.

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