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Household Food Insecurity Is Associated with RBC Folate Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anaemia Among Non-Pregnant Nepalese Women Aged 15-49 Years

Although food insecurity (a measure of a household’s availability, accessibility, utilisation, and stability of food) and micronutrient deficiencies have remained a serious public health concern in Nepal, research assessing the association between them is least known. Using data from the 2016 Nepal Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (NMICS), this cross-sectional study that included a sample of 2143 non-pregnant women aged 15-49 years assessed whether there is an association between household (HH) food insecurity with red blood cell (RBC) folate deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia. Multivariate analysis was conducted to examine the association between HH food insecurity and Iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) and RBC folate deficiency. Overall, 56% of participants were from food-secure households, whilst 7% were from severely food-insecure households. In adjusted models, living in a severely food insecure household was significantly associated with both IDA [adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 1.63; 95% confidence interval (CI): (1.02, 2.60)] and RBC folate deficiency [AOR: 3.83; 95% CI: (1.03, 14.18)]. Findings from this study revealed that severe household food insecurity was associated with both IDA and RBC folate. Public health policies to ameliorate IDA and RBC folate should provision for spending on food assistance programmes to address household food insecurity in Nepal. Social protection schemes should be expanded for those belonging to severely food insecure HHs who are unable to feed themselves and produce food for subsistence to strengthen their livelihood and ensure access to adequate, nutritious, and diverse food. Further, Food System needs to be strengthened to increase access to and consumption of nutritious, safe, affordable and sustainable diets. Pro-poor and women-focused food security policies need to be developed.

Food Insecurity, RBC Folate, Iron-Deficiency, Non-Pregnant Women, Nepal, Social Protection

Sanjay Rijal, Naveen Paudyal, Sanjeev Kumar Sahani, Sunita Raut, Kingsley Agho. (2023). Household Food Insecurity Is Associated with RBC Folate Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anaemia Among Non-Pregnant Nepalese Women Aged 15-49 Years. Journal of Health and Environmental Research, 9(2), 59-66.

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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