Driving Policy Change to Improve Micronutrient Status in Women of Reproductive Age and Children in Southeast Asia: The SMILING Project
Objective The SMILING (Sustainable Micronutrient Interventions to Control Deficiencies and Improve Nutritional Status and General Health in Asia) project aimed at creating awareness and improving policies around micronutrient deficiencies in five Southeast Asian countries (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia). Results The project showed large gaps in recent data on micronutrient status in most of the five countries. By updating existing, or creating national food composition tables, the SMILING project enabled analyses of food consumption in women of reproductive age and young children. Linear programming showed a high risk for multiple micronutrient deficiencies in these groups, and especially in pregnant women. Most programs to improve micronutrient status target iodine, iron and vitamin A deficiency. However, the high prevalence of zinc, vitamin D, thiamine and folate deficiency in the region warrant interventions too. For certain micronutrients (zinc, iron, calcium), dietary changes alone appeared not enough to fulfill requirements. Food fortification was identified to be a sustainable, long-term solution to improve micronutrient intake. Multiple criteria mapping by stakeholders in each country resulted in a list of country-specific priority interventions. Surprisingly, food fortification was ranked low, due to concerns on quality control and organoleptic changes of the fortified food. More advocacy is needed for new, innovative interventions such as delayed cord clamping. Conclusions for practice The SMILING project recommends regular surveys to monitor micronutrient status of population, to measure impact of interventions and to guide nutrition policies.
KeywordsMicronutrient deficiencies Policy Women Young children South-east Asia
The SMILING project was funded by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (GA 2896 16).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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