This month will see World Iron Awareness Week, a Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc (B+LNZ) initiated campaign which has gone global since its inception last year, after the concept was presented to the International Meat Secretariat Human Nutrition and Health committee in the US last October.
B+LNZ Inc nutrition manager Fiona Greig writes that whilst the meat industry has highlighted the many health and nutritional attributes of its products over the years, this campaign hones in on an essential mineral – iron, given many endure iron deficiency on a worldwide scale, particularly young children and women.
The World Health Organisation recognises iron deficiency as the most common and widespread nutritional disorder in the world. It is also the only nutrient deficiency which affects people in both developing and developed countries with an estimated 30 percent – two billion – of the world’s population suffering from anaemia, many due to iron deficiency, with infectious diseases exacerbating the condition in developing countries.
Here in New Zealand, it generally comes down to a lack of dietary intake, despite living in an environment where there is an abundance of iron-rich foods, namely red meat.
Those who need iron the most are people going through rapid periods of growth including children and teenagers, particularly teen girls due to monthly blood loss, pregnant women, athletes and those restricted or fad diets. This year’s New Zealand focus will be on women aged 15-50 years as they are particularly at risk of going short on iron according to national nutrition survey results.
Modelled as a public health campaign, this real issue can be further highlighted through the health professional sector – those at the coal face of seeing the effects of a low iron status.
Communication efforts will be seen in print, on radio and social media highlighting the prevalence of iron deficiency, how to recognise the signs of low iron and tips on boosting iron levels which can all be found on www.ironweek.co.nz, not to mention drawing on some iron-focused TV campaigns from years gone by.
In addition, our colleagues in Norway, South Africa and the US have confirmed they will profile the campaign.
If you would like to get behind the campaign and have further ideas on spreading the word, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has appeared in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2015) and is reproduced here with permission.