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Consumption of iodised salt increases in rural India

May 02, 2011

According to a recent survey, iodine consumption in rural India has improved by 20% thanks to increased awareness on the importance of iodine intake. Its deficiency exposes 13 million children each year in India to the risks of brain damage.

New Delhi: Use of adequately iodised salt has increased by 20% in the rural households as against the last country-wide survey conducted under the National Family Health Survey (2005-06).

The Iodised Salt Coverage Study 2010, released here earlier this week, suggests that use of iodised salt in rural India has jumped to 47.3% from 27%. Uttarakhand, Orissa, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh witnessed a two-fold increase while Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have shown relatively lower progress. The study shows that the availability of iodine content in the edible salt has improved as the salt is crushed, washed and refined.

Focussing on the status of salt iodisation in India, the study was conducted in rural households across eight States. Salt samples were collected from 9,600 rural households across 960 clusters and tested at the Indian Coalition for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders Laboratory through iodometric titration.

Citing enhanced production and demand for iodised salt in the country as two major reasons for increase in consumption, Salt Commissioner of India S. Sundaresan said awareness campaigns had a role to play in it. He said the annual production of iodised salt had increased to 57-lakh tonnes from 48-lakh tonnes after the use of iodised salt for consumption was made mandatory in 2005. Mr. Sundaresan also said the consumption of iodised salt in Tamil Nadu was low as it supplied it to all other southern States and that the manufacturers were small or medium producers. Steps were being taken to set up a salt farm in the State which would increase the production and improve the quality of iodised salt produced, he added.

Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) is the leading cause of mental retardation worldwide. Children born and living in iodine-deficient areas have an average of 13.5 intelligent quotient (IQ), low compared to children born in iodine-sufficient areas. It is a significant public health problem, with 13 million children born each year unprotected from brain damage caused by iodine deficiency. It is estimated that 200 million people in India are exposed to the risk of IDD and more than 71 million suffer from goitre and other forms of IDD.

Dismissing claims that excess of iodine resulted in thyroid, S.C. Pandav of All-India Institute of Medical Sciences said it did not cause thyroid but probably ‘unmasked' the existing disease. He said excess iodine drains itself automatically and, in fact, goitre rate had declined in areas where the consumption of iodised salt was adequate.

Source : The Hindu
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