Iodine Deficiency, in China
Iodized salt is the best means of providing iodine to deficient populations, and it has been used successfully and safely for 70 years around the world. In China about 450 million people live in iodine-deficient areas. The prevalence of endemic goitre
in 7- to 14-year-old children was estimated to be 20% (7 million
cases). The loss of iodine during cooking is as high as 50% to 70%. The major problems in the fortification of salt with iodine in China are the use of uniodized salt in remote areas,
About 1,500 million people, or nearly one-third of the earth’s population, live in areas of iodine deficiency. Its consequences, the iodine-deficiency disorders, include irreversible mental retardation, goitre, reproductive failure, increased child mortality, and socio-economic compromise. All of these results can be prevented by sufficient iodine in the diet. Eliminating iodine deficiency is recognized as one of the most achievable of the goals that the 1990 World Summit for Children set for the year 2000.
Iodized salt is the best means to provide iodine to iodine-deficient populations. It is physiological, simple, practical, and effective. It has been used successfully and safely for over 70 years in programmes
around the world. In1995 iodine salt use became mandatory throughout the country.
Prevalence of iodine deficiency and iodine-deficiency disorders in China
About 450 million people live in iodine-deficient areas of China, and more than 30% of the total population is at risk for iodine-deficiency disorders. The average prevalence of endemic goitre in children between the ages of 7 and 14 was estimated to be 20% in 1995. All of mainland China’s 30 provinces have reported the occurrence of iodine-deficiency disorders, primarily endemic goitre; however, there are significant differences in prevalence among geographic regions. In 1993 and 1994, there were more than 7 million cases of endemic goitre and more than 200,000 cases of cretinism .
It is widely acknowledged that most iodine-deficient areas are located in hilly or mountainous regions.
Government actions to control iodine-deficiency disorders
The Chinese government has undertaken to eliminate iodine-deficiency disorders by the year 2000.
Effectiveness of use of iodized salt
Although the nationwide use of iodized salt was not started until early 1995, the effectiveness of iodized salt in the control of endemic goitre was clearly shown in several observations and trials. reduction in the prevalence of goitre at the provincial, city, and county levels, where the use of iodized salt was mandatory in every household, although no parallel control population was available in those observations. However, considering the large differences in climate, dietary patterns, cooking habits, and other lifestyle factors among various parts of China, the effectiveness of iodized salt in controlling iodine-deficiency disorders needs further studies and long-term monitoring.
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