European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 467–476 | Cite as

Suboptimal iron status and associated dietary patterns and practices in premenopausal women living in Auckland, New Zealand

  • Kathryn L. BeckEmail author
  • Rozanne Kruger
  • Cathryn A. Conlon
  • Anne-Louise M. Heath
  • Christophe Matthys
  • Jane Coad
  • Welma Stonehouse
Original Contribution



To investigate associations between dietary patterns and suboptimal iron status in premenopausal women living in Auckland, New Zealand.


Premenopausal women (n = 375; 18–44 years) were included in this cross-sectional analysis. Suboptimal iron status was defined as serum ferritin <20 μg/L. Participants completed a 144-item iron food frequency questionnaire (FeFFQ) and a questionnaire on dietary practices to assess dietary intake over the past month. Factor analysis was used to determine dietary patterns from the FeFFQ. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between these dietary patterns and iron status.


Seven dietary patterns were identified: refined carbohydrate and fat; Asian; healthy snacks; meat and vegetable; high tea and coffee; bread and crackers; and milk and yoghurt. Logistic regression suggested that following a “meat and vegetable” dietary pattern reduced the risk of suboptimal iron status by 41 % (95 % CI: 18, 58 %; P = 0.002) and following a “milk and yoghurt” pattern increased the risk of suboptimal iron status by 50 % (95 % CI: 15, 96 %; P = 0.003).


These results suggest that dietary patterns characterized by either a low intake of meat and vegetables or a high intake of milk and yoghurt are associated with an increased risk of suboptimal iron status. Dietary pattern analysis is a novel and potentially powerful tool for investigating the relationship between diet and iron status.


Iron Dietary patterns Factor analysis Women 



We gratefully acknowledge all study participants; Simon Bennett for his phlebotomy skills; Dmitri Roukin for assistance with online questionnaires; Lyn Shave and Sue Pearce for their help with recruitment; Tess Philpott, Liza Phillips and Sitha Adriana for their assistance with data collection; and Solenn Beaunieux for assisting with data collection and data entry. We acknowledge Dr. Beatrix Jones and Florian Heller for their advice and assistance with factor analysis and interpretation of data. This study was funded by the Massey University Research Fund, New Horizons for Women Trust Research Award and the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University. Kathryn Beck was the recipient of the New Zealand Dietetic Association Neige Todhunter Award.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathryn L. Beck
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rozanne Kruger
    • 1
  • Cathryn A. Conlon
    • 1
  • Anne-Louise M. Heath
    • 2
  • Christophe Matthys
    • 3
  • Jane Coad
    • 1
  • Welma Stonehouse
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health (IFNHH)Massey University AlbanyNorth Shore CityNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Human NutritionUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  3. 3.Clinical and Experimental EndocrinologyKULeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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