Iron-deficiency anemia in young working women can be reduced by increasing the consumption of cereal-based fermented foods or gooseberry juice at the workplace

Food Nutr Bull. 2002 Mar;23(1):94-105. doi: 10.1177/156482650202300113.


This efficacy for both employers and employees (young working women 18 to 23 years of age) was undertaken to determine whether culturally acceptable dietary changes in lunches in the workplace and at home could bring about a behavioral change and improvement in their iron-deficiency anemia status. Maximum weight was given to increasing consumption of iddli, a popular cereal-based-fermented food, or of gooseberry juice. Four small factories were selected in periurban Bangalore, with a sample of 302 women. The 180-day interventions were supervised at the workplace. In unit 1 (72 women), the intervention consisted of iddli four times a week plus information, education, and communication (IEC) related to iron-deficiency anemia. Unit 2 (80 women) received 20 ml of gooseberry juice (containing 40 mg of vitamin C) three times a week plus IEC once a month. Women in unit 3 (70 women), the positive control, received 400 mg albendazole once plus ferrous sulfate tablets (60 mg elemental iron) two times a week. No IEC was given. Unit 4 (70 women) served as the negative control and received no intervention. The pre-post impact measures were dietary and nutrient intake, knowledge and practice, and hemoglobin status. In units 1, 2, and 3, the hemoglobin status of the women improved significantly from 11.10 to 12.30 g/dl, 11.20 to 12.70 g/dl, and 11.50 to 13.00 g/dl, respectively. In unit 4 there was no change: the values were 10.90 g/dl before and after intervention. The results show that the type of workplace lunch was of greater significance than IEC. Knowledge gains were impressive, but behavioral change was not sustained. It was concluded that the hemoglobin levels of the workers can easily be improved by cost-effective workplace lunches that also lead to better employer-employee relations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Beverages*
  • Diet Records
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Edible Grain*
  • Female
  • Fermentation / physiology*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • India
  • Nutritional Sciences / education
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Women, Working*


  • Ascorbic Acid