An MI-funded study of iodized salt coverage among rural populations in eight Indian states is providing important new information to help guide efforts to scale up production and consumption of adequately iodized salt.
Importantly, the Iodized Salt Coverage Study 2010 detailed findings tell us not only what current consumption levels of iodized salt are, but also which attitudes, behaviours and industry practices correlate to consumption – or lack thereof.
One message rang out loud and clear: efforts to reach the poorest of the rural population must be accelerated.
Evidence of Progress
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. The good news is that there are signs of significant progress in iodized salt coverage in rural areas.
In 2005-2006, the National Family Health Survey 3 revealed that, in eight states, only 27% of rural households were consuming iodized salt.
Our new study, in these same eight states, shows that by 2010, 47.3% of the households were consuming adequately iodized salt.
This in an impressive 20% increase in household consumption – and means that hundreds of millions of people have newly-gained access to adequately iodized salt.
This positive new momentum reflects recent changes in India´s salt industry including:
- better production
- better refining and iodization practices
- improvement in salt quality
- improvements to packaging
- effective monitoring of iodine levels from production to consumption
- better consumer awareness.
The Poverty Gap
Although the increase in access is positive news, the overall levels of access still present a dire picture for far too many people – particularly for the poorest of rural households.
Overall, 52.7% of the rural households do not have access to adequately iodized salt – with only 36.2% of those in the lowest wealth quintile having access.
This data convincingly points to the need to target and assist small salt processors, and to employ creative nutrition education campaigns that reach the rural poor.
The Iodized Salt Coverage Study is an important new tool for gathering support for this work and targeting our actions for success.
Funded by the Micronutrient Initiative (MI), the Iodized Salt Coverage Study 2010 was designed and guided by the Salt Commissioner´s Office, Ministry of Commerce & Industries, Government of India and a consortium of agencies. AC Nielsen conducted the study in 2010, and the South Asia regional office of the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) conducted the analysis of the salt samples.