Open Access Weekly iron and folic acid supplementation with counseling reduces anemia in adolescent girls: A large-scale effectiveness study in Uttar Pradesh, India

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Background. Weekly iron–folic acid supplementation in small-scale research trials and as administered in institutions has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing anemia in adolescent girls.

Objective. To assess the effectiveness of weekly iron–folic acid supplementation in a large-scale project in reducing the prevalence of anemia in adolescent girls.

Methods. The project provided weekly iron–folic acid tablets, family life education, and deworming tablets every 6 months to 150,700 adolescent school girls and non-schoolgirls of a total district population of 3,647,834. Consumption of the iron–folic acid tablets was supervised for schoolgirls but not for non-schoolgirls. Hemoglobin levels were assessed in a random sample of non-schoolgirls at 6 and 12 months and schoolgirls at 6 months. The effect of supplementation on the prevalence of anemia and the compliance rate were assessed over a 4-year period.

Results. In 4 years, the overall prevalence of anemia was reduced from 73.3% to 25.4%. Hemoglobin levels and anemia prevalence were influenced significantly at 6 months. No difference in the impact on hemoglobin or anemia prevalence was observed between supervised and unsupervised girls. Counseling on the positive effects of regular weekly iron–folic acid intake contributed to a high compliance rate of over 85%. The cost of implementation was US$0.36 per beneficiary per year.

Conclusions. Weekly iron–folic acid supplementation combined with monthly education sessions and deworming every 6 months is cost-effective in reducing the prevalence of anemia in adolescent girls. Appropriate counseling, irrespective of supervision, is critical for achieving positive outcomes.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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