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Can multi-micronutrient food fortification improve the micronutrient status, growth, health, and cognition of schoolchildren? A systematic review


C Best, United Nations World Food Programme, Via Cesare Giulio Viola 68/70, 00148 Rome, Italy. E-mail:


Micronutrient deficiencies compromise the health and development of many school-age children worldwide. Previous research suggests that micronutrient interventions might benefit the health and development of school-age children and that multiple micronutrients might be more effective than single micronutrients. Fortification of food is a practical way to provide extra micronutrients to children. Earlier reviews of (multiple) micronutrient interventions in school-age children did not distinguish between supplementation or fortification studies. The present review includes studies that tested the impact of multiple micronutrients provided via fortification on the micronutrient status, growth, health, and cognitive development of schoolchildren. Twelve eligible studies were identified. Eleven of them tested the effects of multiple micronutrients provided via fortified food compared to unfortified food. One study compared fortification with multiple micronutrients to fortification with iodine alone. Multi-micronutrient food fortification consistently improved micronutrient status and reduced anemia prevalence. Some studies reported positive effects on morbidity, growth, and cognitive outcomes, but the overall effects on these outcomes were equivocal.