Global trends in dietary micronutrient supplies and estimated prevalence of inadequate intakes

PLoS One. 2017 Apr 11;12(4):e0175554. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175554. eCollection 2017.

Abstract

Understanding dietary patterns is vital to reducing the number of people experiencing hunger (about 795 million), micronutrient deficiencies (2 billion), and overweight or obesity (2.1 billion). We characterize global trends in dietary quality by estimating micronutrient density of the food supply, prevalence of inadequate intake of 14 micronutrients, and average prevalence of inadequate intake of these micronutrients for all countries between 1961 and 2011. Over this 50-year period, the estimated prevalence of inadequate intakes of micronutrients has declined in all regions due to increased total production of food and/or micronutrient density. This decline has been particularly strong in East and Southeast Asia and weaker in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where dietary micronutrient density has declined over this 50-year period. At the global level, micronutrients with the lowest levels of adequate estimated intake are calcium, iron, vitamin A, and zinc, but there are strong differences between countries and regions. Fortification has reduced the estimated prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes in all low-income regions, except South Asia. The food supply in many countries is still far below energy requirements, which suggests a need to increase the availability and accessibility of nutritious foods. Countries where the food energy supply is adequate show a very large variation in dietary quality, and in many of these countries people would benefit from more diverse diets with a greater proportion of micronutrient-dense foods. Dietary quality can be improved through fortification, biofortification, and agricultural diversification, as well as efforts to improve access to and use of micronutrient-dense foods and nutritional knowledge. Reducing poverty and increasing education, especially of women, are integral to sustainably addressing malnutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Food Supply
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence

Grant support

Funding for this project was provided by the Feed the Future Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab through the United States Agency for International Development received by RJH (grant # AID-OOA-L-14-00006)(http://www.k-state.edu/siil/). This work was also supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program received by TB (grant # 1650042)(https://www.nsfgrfp.org). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.