Attempt to fortify flour to boost health
A nutrition agency is seeking support from officials and manufacturers to add iron and folic acid to flour - the country's biggest staple product - and improve the nation's health.
Yu Xiaodong, director of the National Development and Reform Commission's Centre for Public Nutrition and Development, said the plan was part of the 11th Five-Year Programme.
About 100,000 babies are born on the mainland each year with deficiencies caused by malnutrition. Productivity losses due to iron deficiency anaemia alone are estimated to cost US$13 billion annually. The Canada-based Micronutrient Initiative suggests the loss will amount to 3.8 per cent of GDP in the world's fastest-growing economy in the next decade.
Addressing a flour fortification forum in Beijing in the past week, Unicef programme division director Alan Court described nutritional deficiencies as a 'hidden hunger'.
Liu Fuhe , from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Reduction, said the government realised poverty and malnutrition were part of a vicious cycle that blocked economic development.
However, implementation of the flour fortification plan demands support from all sectors, from policymakers to the public.