Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation Reduces Anemia and Anxiety in Rural China's Elementary School Children

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The Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 143, page(s): 640-647


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Despite growing wealth and a strengthening commitment from the government to provide quality education, a significant share of students across rural China still have inadequate access to micronutrient-rich regular diets. Such poor diets can lead to nutritional problems, such as iron-deficiency anemia, that can adversely affect health, attention and cognitive ability. The overall goal of this paper is to assess the impact of multiple micronutrient supplementation on anemia and anxiety among students in poor areas of rural China. We report on the results of a randomized control trial (RCT) involving over 2700 fourth grade students, mostly aged 9 to 12, from 54 randomly-chosen elementary schools in 8 of the poorest counties in Shaanxi Province in China’s poor northwest region. The design called for random assignment of schools to one of two groups. One group received a daily multivitamin with mineral supplements, including 5 milligrams of iron, for 5 months while the other group was a non-intervention, control group. Anemia was defined as < 120 g/L. We found that 42.4 percent of students were anemic at baseline In the schools that received the multivitamins with mineral supplements, Hb levels rose by more than 1.7 g/L over the control schools. The test for anxiety showed that students that received the multivitamin with mineral supplements also improved significantly. Overall, these results should encourage further research on the interaction between nutrition and mental health in a development context.

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