Food Fortification: The Next Global Health Success Story?

The global health burden of vitamin and mineral deficiencies is profound. Did you know vitamins and minerals used in fortifying food help prevent intellectual disabilities, preventable blindness and birth defects caused by nutritional deficiencies?

Food fortification is a proven, cost-effective intervention. Hidden hunger, also known as micronutrient deficiency, is a lack of critical vitamins and minerals. Today it affects more than a quarter of the global population – 2 billion people. Deficiency in nutrients like iron, folic acid, iodine and vitamin A can be life threatening for pregnant women and their developing infants.

Food fortification efforts are quite effective and two-thirds of the world’s countries mandate the intervention. Yet many of those countries are not necessarily translating policy into improved nutrition, according to new data from the Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx). GFDx provides data needed to track global progress on food fortification and to enable decision makers to use data to improve the quality of national fortification programs.

Now, for the first time, GFDx allows users to track and map international progress toward fortification of major food staples specifically oil, rice, salt, and maize and wheat flour. The GFDx aggregates and visualizes data for 196 countries, from 1940 to the present. Through an expanded and updated suite of metrics, GFDx now reports population coverage of food fortification, along with food quality and intake, legislation and standards. Designed specifically for decision makers to quickly and easily interpret data, the tool generates custom maps, charts and tables.

GFDx is led by a nutrition coalition comprised of the Food Fortification Initiative, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Iodine Global Network and Micronutrient Forum, and is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The CDC Foundation is proud to be a partner with GFDx.

Amy Tolchinsky is the communications director for the CDC Foundation.