New Estimates:1 in 2 Children and 2 in 3 Women Globally Affected by Micronutrient Deficiencies.

Gretchen A Stevens, Ty Beal, Mduduzi N N Mbuya, Hanqi Luo, Lynnette M Neufeld,
Global Micronutrient Deficiencies Research Group
Resource type:
Reports and discussion papers

A new study shows that 1 in 2 children and 2 in 3 women worldwide affected by micronutrient deficiencies. The research “Micronutrient Deficiencies Among Preschool-aged Children and Women of Reproductive Age Worldwide” was a collaborative project led by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Advancing Nutrition project, along with a team of global micronutrient experts, including an advisory panel brought together by the Micronutrient Forum. The decades old estimate that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies is a major underestimate.

Lynnette Neufeld, Director of Food and Nutrition Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and one of the lead researchers notes "Diets that don’t provide the right levels of vitamins and minerals can compromise your immune system, impair your cognition and school performance, decrease your work productivity, and may contribute to risks of non-communicable diseases."

Alarmingly, 9 in 10 women in several countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrient deficiencies are surprisingly high even in high-income countries, such as the US and UK, where between 1 in 3 and 1 in 2 women are deficient—iron deficiency alone is prevalent among 1 in 5 women in both countries.

Some of the proposed solutions to address micronutrient deficiencies include:

  • Improving access to micronutrient-dense foods, such as animal-source foods, dark green leafy vegetables, and beans, lentils, or peas
  • Fortifying staple foods and condiments
  • Developing crops that are more nutritious (biofortification); and providing supplements to those with extra needs.
  • More and better data on micronutrient status are urgently needed across all strata to be able to quantify the total global burden, and better target solutions.


Learn more about the new global estimates of micronutrient deficiencies



This resource has been peer reviewed