August 22, 2022
Survey indicates concerning rise in iron deficiency symptoms
The results from an online iron quiz titled ‘Could you be low on iron?’ – which checks for common signs and symptoms of iron deficiency – point to some worrying trends.
The results from the 37,000 global responses to this New Zealand quiz – which are being released to coincide with World Iron Awareness Week – saw over 62% of the respondents state they are struggling to get out of bed in the morning, 42% reporting they feel weak or dizzy all the time and over half saying they are short of breath after walking up a flight of steps.
Regina Wypych, Head of Nutrition at Beef + Lamb New Zealand, says whilst these results are a toe in the water insight to how people are feeling, it can’t be concluded from the survey alone that respondents are categorically suffering from iron deficiency. But if they are an indicative depiction of iron deficiency and its symptoms, it’s a worrying outlook.
“New Zealand statistics on iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are becoming outdated, and we have limited current knowledge on the state of the nation’s iron health. Until we gain further knowledge on this, it’s really important to keep raising awareness through initiatives like World Iron Awareness Week,” says Regina.
“What we do know from the number of people taking part, is that it suggests people are interested in the impact of diet on our health and if anyone is concerned about their health, they should consider visiting a health professional.”
In New Zealand, the many supporting organisations of this year’s World Iron Awareness Week (22-28th August) will again highlight those most at risk of iron deficiency, the implications of being short on iron, dietary tips to optimise iron absorption along with a range of tasty iron-rich recipes.
This year’s campaign asks, ‘Is low iron holding you back?’ When your energy levels are not what they should be and poor sleeping, late night Netflix, recovery from Covid or flu and life stresses can be dismissed, it could possibly be low iron causing tiredness, fatigue and headaches. Taking the quiz allows you to find out if you have any other signs and symptoms of low iron.
For more information and to take the quiz, visit https://www.ironweek.co.nz/quizzes
For more information, please contact:
Lisa Moloney, Promotions Manager, Beef + Lamb New Zealand
027 632 1644
Regina Wypych, Head of Nutrition, Beef + Lamb New Zealand
027 235 9669
One billion people globally are estimated by the World Health Organisation to be suffering from iron deficiency anaemia. Although iron deficiency anaemia occurs at all ages and involves both genders, adolescent girls are more prone to it. The highest prevalence of global iron deficiency anaemia is between the ages of 12 and 15 years when requirements are at peak. In some countries, up to 50% of adolescent girls have been reported to be anaemic.
Here in Aotearoa, the statistics don’t look much better. Based on the most recent national nutrition survey from 2009, one in fourteen women are iron deficient and, worryingly, a third of teenage girls do not achieve their daily iron requirements, with more research needed to understand the current situation.
What has this meant for our already under pressure district health boards? The cost of hospitalisations - primarily due to iron deficiency anaemia crept up from an annual $3.2 million to over $6.7m in the ten years between 2008-2018.
 Murray CJL, Salomon JA, Mathers CD, Lopez AD. The global burden of disease. Geneva: World Health Organization. (2002).
 Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anaemia in Adolescents. Role of Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation. World Health Organisation. (2011).
 University of Otago and Ministry of Health. (2011). A Focus on Nutrition: Key findings of the 2008/09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
 Stuff.co.nz More spent on low iron hospitalisations as meat intake declines - 1st January 2019 https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/108767316/more-spent-on-low-iron-hospitalisations-as-meat-intake-declines
October 11, 2021
National quiz reveals Kiwis are rusty on their iron knowledge
Ahead of World Iron Awareness Week 2021, 11- 17October, over 3,300 Kiwis have been quizzed on their iron knowledge. With an average score of 56%, most New Zealanders are just passing.
Breaking the results down regionally, Auckland and Otago were right on average with a score of 56%, beaten slightly by Bay of Plenty and Canterbury each scoring 57%. Hawke’s Bay came in at just 51%, and Nelson came out on top with a score of 61%.
Only a third of quiz takers knew that a 7 month old baby needs more iron than a 5 year old child, a 50 year old woman, and a 30 year old man. Even less, 20%, knew that 8 out of 10 toddlers don’t meet the recommended daily intake of dietary iron.
The good news is New Zealanders are able to identify the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency; 92% recognising poor concentration, lack of energy, frequent infections, feeling the cold easily and pale gums may indicate low iron levels. While 93% knew energy, brain function, immunity, growth and development are why iron is so critical to the human body.
New Zealand Registered Dietitian, Nickie Hursthouse of Nickie Hursthouse Nutrition says “With approximately 30% of the world’s population suffering from iron deficiency, the World Iron Awareness Week Campaign is a good opportunity for New Zealanders to learn more about dietary iron within healthy and balanced diets.
“It’s great to see New Zealanders recognise the symptoms of iron deficiency, because often people are unaware they have deficient levels. Whilst awareness is a key factor, it is also important and effective to take a proactive approach, and ensure you’re consuming a variety of iron-rich foods every day.”
Lifestyle factors, such as age and physical activity can impact iron levels. Here are ten tips and facts to improve your iron intake and iron knowledge:
A sure way to improve your iron intake is to eat a varied, balanced, and healthy diet from the four food groups, emphasised on whole, less processed foods.
Not all iron is created equal – 15-25% of haem iron (found in meat and fish) is absorbed by the body, while only 5-12% of non-haem iron (found in mostly plant and to a small degree animal foods) is absorbed. Hence the importance of eating a range of iron foods.
See red if you’re a meat eater – red meats are richer in haem iron than white meat, poultry and fish – generally the redder the meat, the higher the iron, so a variety of meats are beneficial.
Make sure you get plenty of vitamin C (fruits and veges)– to help the body absorb up to three times more non-haem iron from a meal.
The tannins in tea, and to a lesser extent coffee, reduces the amount of iron we can use from food. So, drink your tea and coffee between, not during main meals.
Eat red meat and vegetables together – eating meat with plant foods will help the body absorb up to 2-4 times more iron.
Know if you’re at risk – infants, teen and adult females, sports people, vegetarians, vegans and elderly are most at risk of being iron deficient.
Supplement with care – if you think you’re low in iron, seek the advice of a doctor. A blood test will determine if you need iron supplements.
Beware of dieting – Studies show that girls and women on low calorie or restricted diets generally miss out on getting enough of their iron requirements.
Have your iron levels checked regularly and ensure your diet is balanced and varied.
For more information head to ironweek.co.nz
For more information please contact: