Background: Despite the universal iodization of salt in Ethiopia, iodine deficiency disorder remains a major public health problem and continued to affect a large segment of the population. It is thus essential to assess factors contributing to the unacceptably high endemic goiter rate in the country and avail evidence for further additional interventions. In line with this, we examined the association of dietary pattern and iodine deficiency among school-age children in Ethiopia.
Method: We conducted a school-based cross-sectional study among 767 children aged 6 to 12 in southwest Ethiopia. We collected socio-demographic and other important health related information using a pre-tested structured questionnaire through the interview. Dietary pattern of children was measured using modified Hellen Keller's food frequency questionnaire. We measured iodine deficiency using urinary iodine concentration level and total goiter rate, according to the World Health Organization threshold criteria. We used a multivariate linear regression model to identify dietary and sociodemographic factors that affect urinary iodine level among children.
Result: Out of the 767 children included in the study, 12% and 4% of children have grade 1 and grade 2 goiter respectively, making the total goiter rate 16%. While the prevalence of iodine deficiency based on urinary iodine concentration is 58.8% of which 13.7% had severe, 18.6% had moderate and 26.5% had mild form. The proportion of children who consumed godere/taro root/, banana, corn, Abyssinian cabbage, and potato, respectively at daily basis 57.8%, 53.1%, 37.9%, and 31.2%, respectively. Age (β = -0.7, 95%CI = -1.1, -0.4), sex (β = -22.3, 95%CI = -33.8, -10.8), consumption of taro root (β = -27.4, 95%CI = -22.9, -31.8), cabbage (β = -11.7, 95%CI = -5.7, -17.6), Abyssinian cabbage (β = 12.4, 95%CI = 6.7, 18.2), and banana (β = 5.6, 95%CI = 0.01, 11.2) significantly associated with urinary iodine level.
Conclusion: Iodine deficiency remains an important public health problem in southwest Ethiopia. Over-consumption of goitrogenic foods and under-consumption of iodine-rich foods were prevalent and associated with lower urinary iodine level. Therefore, dietary counseling apart from universal salt iodization is recommended.