More action needed: Micronutrient deficiencies continue to cause concern among children in Indonesia

By Shali S

- Last updated on GMT

The prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in Indonesian children was over 10 per cent for micronutrients such as ferritin, zinc, and vitamin D. © Getty Images
The prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in Indonesian children was over 10 per cent for micronutrients such as ferritin, zinc, and vitamin D. © Getty Images

Related tags Indonesia micronutrients stunting

A new cross-sectional study from Indonesia has revealed stunting, thinness and micronutrient deficiencies remain problematic among 5-12 year old children, despite the success of some government interventions.

Micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs) continue to pose a significant global health challenge, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that over 2 billion people are affected.  

Among those at risk of MNDs in developing and transitioning economies are school-aged children, as government support for micronutrient supplementation remains inconsistent or non-existent. 

In Indonesia, micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs) in school-aged children are still a major health problem. This prompted a study​ designed to examine the status of micronutrients and the nutritional status of children aged 5 to 12 years old. 

The researchers used a cross-sectional design for this study, where data from 2,456 subjects were analysed, including their nutritional status, subject characteristics, and serum micronutrient values.

Serum analysis for micronutrient content such as ferritin, zinc, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D was carried out at the Nutrition Laboratory of the Research and Development Center for Biomedical and Basic Health Technology, Ministry of Health Indonesia, from January to December 2021. To supplement their research, data from the 2018 Indonesian Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) was also utilized. 

The results showed that stunting, thinness and MND were common in school-aged children: 

“The prevalence of stunting and thinness in school-aged children was 11.4% and 9.2%, respectively, showing that the stunting prevalence in the city was lower than in the village (4.5% vs. 6.9%, P = 0.000, respectively). In addition, the prevalence of MNDs in Indonesian children was 13.4%, 19.7%, 4.2%, 3%, and 12.7% for ferritin, zinc, calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D, respectively.”

When comparing the rate of stunting with other developing countries and sub-continents, the result is similar in children aged 6–12 years in Ethiopia (11.6%) and much lower than in Africa (22%), wider South-East Asia (29%), Latin America (16%), the Eastern Mediterranean (24%), and the Western Pacific (28%).

The study also showed a higher prevalence of thinness (9.2%) when compared to Latin America (6%), but lower than Ethiopia (10.8%), Africa (36%), South-East Asia (34%), Eastern Mediterranean (13%), and Western Pacific (14%). 

The comparable achievement in the prevalence of stunting and thinness can be attributed to the success of the National Movement for Stunting Prevention and Multi-Sector Partnership Cooperation in Indonesia.

This initiative incorporates targeted and nutrition-sensitive interventions designed to support children during their crucial first 1,000 days of life. 

As government intervention has shown some success in reducing the rate of stunting and thinness in Indonesia, the study concludes with a call-to-action for local governments to strive for even lower numbers of MNDs:

“These findings indicate that micronutrient deficiencies in school-aged children must be addressed immediately by evaluating and planning health programs to address these problems, such as supplementation and fortification of micronutrients, deworming, vector control, nutrition and health education, sanitation improvement, clean water supply, and other appropriate approaches.”

 

Source: Journal of Nutritional Metabolism

doi: 10.1155/2023/4610038

“Micronutrients and Nutrition Status of School-Aged Children in Indonesia”

Authors; Fitrah Ernawati, et al

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