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      Estimating the Global Prevalence of Zinc Deficiency: Results Based on Zinc Availability in National Food Supplies and the Prevalence of Stunting

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      PLoS ONE
      Public Library of Science

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          Adequate zinc nutrition is essential for adequate growth, immunocompetence and neurobehavioral development, but limited information on population zinc status hinders the expansion of interventions to control zinc deficiency. The present analyses were conducted to: (1) estimate the country-specific prevalence of inadequate zinc intake; and (2) investigate relationships between country-specific estimated prevalence of dietary zinc inadequacy and dietary patterns and stunting prevalence.

          Methodology and Principal Findings

          National food balance sheet data were obtained from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Country-specific estimated prevalence of inadequate zinc intake were calculated based on the estimated absorbable zinc content of the national food supply, International Zinc Nutrition Consultative Group estimated physiological requirements for absorbed zinc, and demographic data obtained from United Nations estimates. Stunting data were obtained from a recent systematic analysis based on World Health Organization growth standards. An estimated 17.3% of the world’s population is at risk of inadequate zinc intake. Country-specific estimated prevalence of inadequate zinc intake was negatively correlated with the total energy and zinc contents of the national food supply and the percent of zinc obtained from animal source foods, and positively correlated with the phytate: zinc molar ratio of the food supply. The estimated prevalence of inadequate zinc intake was correlated with the prevalence of stunting (low height-for-age) in children under five years of age (r = 0.48, P<0.001).

          Conclusions and Significance

          These results, which indicate that inadequate dietary zinc intake may be fairly common, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, allow inter-country comparisons regarding the relative likelihood of zinc deficiency as a public health problem. Data from these analyses should be used to determine the need for direct biochemical and dietary assessments of population zinc status, as part of nationally representative nutritional surveys targeting countries estimated to be at high risk.

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          Most cited references15

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          Neonatal, postneonatal, childhood, and under-5 mortality for 187 countries, 1970-2010: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4.

          Previous assessments have highlighted that less than a quarter of countries are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), which calls for a two-thirds reduction in mortality in children younger than 5 years between 1990 and 2015. In view of policy initiatives and investments made since 2000, it is important to see if there is acceleration towards the MDG 4 target. We assessed levels and trends in child mortality for 187 countries from 1970 to 2010. We compiled a database of 16 174 measurements of mortality in children younger than 5 years for 187 countries from 1970 to 2009, by use of data from all available sources, including vital registration systems, summary birth histories in censuses and surveys, and complete birth histories. We used Gaussian process regression to generate estimates of the probability of death between birth and age 5 years. This is the first study that uses Gaussian process regression to estimate child mortality, and this technique has better out-of-sample predictive validity than do previous methods and captures uncertainty caused by sampling and non-sampling error across data types. Neonatal, postneonatal, and childhood mortality was estimated from mortality in children younger than 5 years by use of the 1760 measurements from vital registration systems and complete birth histories that contained specific information about neonatal and postneonatal mortality. Worldwide mortality in children younger than 5 years has dropped from 11.9 million deaths in 1990 to 7.7 million deaths in 2010, consisting of 3.1 million neonatal deaths, 2.3 million postneonatal deaths, and 2.3 million childhood deaths (deaths in children aged 1-4 years). 33.0% of deaths in children younger than 5 years occur in south Asia and 49.6% occur in sub-Saharan Africa, with less than 1% of deaths occurring in high-income countries. Across 21 regions of the world, rates of neonatal, postneonatal, and childhood mortality are declining. The global decline from 1990 to 2010 is 2.1% per year for neonatal mortality, 2.3% for postneonatal mortality, and 2.2% for childhood mortality. In 13 regions of the world, including all regions in sub-Saharan Africa, there is evidence of accelerating declines from 2000 to 2010 compared with 1990 to 2000. Within sub-Saharan Africa, rates of decline have increased by more than 1% in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, and The Gambia. Robust measurement of mortality in children younger than 5 years shows that accelerating declines are occurring in several low-income countries. These positive developments deserve attention and might need enhanced policy attention and resources. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Trends in mild, moderate, and severe stunting and underweight, and progress towards MDG 1 in 141 developing countries: a systematic analysis of population representative data

            Summary Background There is little information on country trends in the complete distributions of children's anthropometric status, which are needed to assess all levels of mild to severe undernutrition. We aimed to estimate trends in the distributions of children's anthropometric status and assess progress towards the Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG 1) target of halving the prevalence of weight-for-age Z score (WAZ) below −2 between 1990 and 2015 or reaching a prevalence of 2·3% or lower. Methods We collated population-representative data on height-for-age Z score (HAZ) and WAZ calculated with the 2006 WHO child growth standards. Our data sources were health and nutrition surveys, summary statistics from the WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition, and summary statistics from reports of other national and international agencies. We used a Bayesian hierarchical mixture model to estimate Z-score distributions. We quantified the uncertainty of our estimates, assessed their validity, compared their performance to alternative models, and assessed sensitivity to key modelling choices. Findings In developing countries, mean HAZ improved from −1·86 (95% uncertainty interval −2·01 to −1·72) in 1985 to −1·16 (–1·29 to −1·04) in 2011; mean WAZ improved from −1·31 (–1·41 to −1·20) to −0·84 (–0·93 to −0·74). Over this period, prevalences of moderate-and-severe stunting declined from 47·2% (44·0 to 50·3) to 29·9% (27·1 to 32·9) and underweight from 30·1% (26·7 to 33·3) to 19·4% (16·5 to 22·2). The largest absolute improvements were in Asia and the largest relative reductions in prevalence in southern and tropical Latin America. Anthropometric status worsened in sub-Saharan Africa until the late 1990s and improved thereafter. In 2011, 314 (296 to 331) million children younger than 5 years were mildly, moderately, or severely stunted and 258 (240 to 274) million were mildly, moderately, or severely underweight. Developing countries as a whole have less than a 5% chance of meeting the MDG 1 target; but 61 of these 141 countries have a 50–100% chance. Interpretation Macroeconomic shocks, structural adjustment, and trade policy reforms in the 1980s and 1990s might have been responsible for worsening child nutritional status in sub-Saharan Africa. Further progress in the improvement of children's growth and nutrition needs equitable economic growth and investment in pro-poor food and primary care programmes, especially relevant in the context of the global economic crisis. Funding The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Medical Research Council.
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              Preventive zinc supplementation among infants, preschoolers, and older prepubertal children.

              Zinc supplementation trials carried out among children have produced variable results, depending on the specific outcomes considered and the initial characteristics of the children who were enrolled. We completed a series of meta-analyses to examine the impact of preventive zinc supplementation on morbidity; mortality; physical growth; biochemical indicators of zinc, iron, and copper status; and indicators of behavioral development, along with possible modifying effects of the intervention results. Zinc supplementation reduced the incidence of diarrhea by approximately 20%, but the impact was limited to studies that enrolled children with a mean initial age greater than 12 months. Among the subset of studies that enrolled children with mean initial age greater than 12 months, the relative risk of diarrhea was reduced by 27%. Zinc supplementation reduced the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections by approximately 15%. Zinc supplementation yielded inconsistent impacts on malaria incidence, and too few trials are currently available to allow definitive conclusions to be drawn. Zinc supplementation had a marginal 6% impact on overall child mortality, but there was an 18% reduction in deaths among zinc-supplemented children older than 12 months of age. Zinc supplementation increased linear growth and weight gain by a small, but highly significant, amount. The interventions yielded a consistent, moderately large increase in mean serum zinc concentrations, and they had no significant adverse effects on indicators of iron and copper status. There were no significant effects on children's behavioral development, although the number of available studies is relatively small. The available evidence supports the need for intervention programs to enhance zinc status to reduce child morbidity and mortality and to enhance child growth. Possible strategies for delivering preventive zinc supplements are discussed.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                29 November 2012
                : 7
                : 11
                : e50568
                [1]Department of Nutrition, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America
                Aga Khan University, Pakistan
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: KRW KHB. Performed the experiments: KRW. Analyzed the data: KRW KHB. Wrote the paper: KRW KHB.

                Copyright @ 2012

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 22 June 2012
                : 22 October 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 11
                This research was funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Global Health
                Micronutrient Deficiencies
                Growth Retardation
                Public Health
                Child Health



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