News

New Iron-Fortified Rice Reduces Anemia

Researchers are testing a new way to prevent the world's most common nutritional problem.

New Iron-Fortified Rice Reduces Anemia
New Iron-Fortified Rice Reduces Anemia

Iron deficiency affects an estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide. In adults, it causes fatigue and lost productivity. It can increase the risk of infection and death in young children, and can also limit their motor skills and ability to learn later in life.

Iron deficiency and its more serious consequence, anemia, are especially common among people who don't eat meat or can't afford it, and who therefore subsist on grains. Wheat and maize are often fortified with iron. But rice has proved hard to fortify without adversely affecting its appearance or flavor.

Re-assembled rice

Diego Moretti at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and his colleagues tried using "fake" rice made out of iron-fortified rice-flour dough and shaped by machine into grains that look like the local variety.

"At first sight it sounds silly to first [grind] rice and then reassemble it with a machine," he says.

It may sound silly, but it worked. In a 2006 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Moretti and colleagues mixed grains of fortified pseudo-rice in with real rice and served it to iron-deficient school children in India. Anemia fell by half among these children, while those who just ate regular rice did not improve. And the children could not tell the difference between fortified and unfortified rice.

Minimal cost

Mark Beinner at Brazil's Federal University of Minas Gerais just published a study in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition in which he and his Brazilian colleagues used a version of this imitation rice to help improve the iron intake in very young children. He says when produced commercially at an industrial scale, the added cost is minimal.

"We're looking at a 3 to 5 percent increase in the cost of a 5-kilo bag of rice," he says. "That's not a lot. The cost of not doing anything is much more substantial in years of life lost not treating young populations that are anemic."

Brown University's Jennifer Friedman works in maternal and child health in the developing world. She says starting commercial production of the fortified rice is an essential first step. "But maintaining that over time is what's very hard. Really keeping that going, making sure those companies stay in business. Marketing that product in a way that people who often don't want to change their lifestyle and what they're doing is the other part that becomes costly."

The nonprofit organization PATH is giving it a try, working to commercialize a version called Ultra Rice in Brazil, Colombia, and India.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs