Optimization of iodine intake in Belgium

Ann Endocrinol (Paris). 2011 Apr;72(2):158-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ando.2011.03.021. Epub 2011 Apr 21.


Mild iodine deficiency (MID) is a long-standing problem in Belgium and was recognized only recently as public health issue by the Ministry of Health (MOH). The main MID-related health problems in Belgium are a high prevalence of thyroid nodules and multinodular goiter. The economic cost of thyroid nodular disease only in Belgium was estimated at about €40 millions per year. The Belgian health authorities adopted a selective strategy to optimize iodine intake through the fortification of bread with iodized salt. A progressive, step-by-step increase of the iodine content of salt was chosen in order to minimize the incidence of hyperthyroidism. MOH monitors this strategy by assessing periodically the urinary iodine concentration in school-aged children and pregnant women, as well as by a yearly follow-up of TSH concentrations in all Belgian newborns. Although the implementation of this strategy was an important step, the main drawback of the current situation is the absence of a legal framework to support the strategy. The utilization of iodized salt in bread on a voluntary basis was endorsed by the bakery industry and MOH. However a legal framework is required to assure the effectiveness and continuity of the program and to avoid a higher than optimal iodine intake in the population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Belgium / epidemiology
  • Bread / economics
  • Child
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified / economics
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hyperthyroidism / diet therapy
  • Hyperthyroidism / epidemiology
  • Hyperthyroidism / prevention & control
  • Incidence
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Iodine / economics
  • Iodine / urine
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / economics
  • Thyroid Nodule / diet therapy*
  • Thyroid Nodule / economics
  • Thyroid Nodule / epidemiology
  • Thyroid Nodule / prevention & control


  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • iodized salt
  • Iodine