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Iron and zinc content of selected foods in the diet of schoolchildren in Kumi district, east of Uganda: a cross-sectional study

Ida Tidemann-Andersen1, Hedwig Acham2, Amund Maage1 and Marian K Malde1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES), P.O. Box 2029 Nordnes, N-5817 Bergen, Norway

2 Department of Science and Technical Education (DOSATE), Makerere University, P.O. Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:81  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-81

Published: 9 August 2011



Iron and zinc are essential micronutrients for humans and deficiency of the two elements is widespread in the world with the highest prevalence in less developed countries. There are few data on dietary intake of iron and zinc in Uganda, and no food composition table is available. There is hardly any widely published literature that clearly documents the quality of Ugandan children's diet. Thus information of both food intake and the concentration of these trace elements in local food ingredients are needed in order to assess daily intake.


The present study focused on the iron and zinc content in selected foods and intake of the micronutrients iron and zinc among schoolchildren in Kumi District, Uganda. Over a period of 4 weeks single 24-hour dietary recall interviews were carried out on a convenience sample of 178 schoolchildren (9-15 years old). Data from the dietary recalls was used when selecting foods for chemical analysis.


Results from this study showed that the iron concentrations varied, and were high in some cereals and vegetables. The zinc concentrations in foods generally corresponded with results from other African countries (Mali and Kenya). Data from the 24-hour dietary recall showed that the daily Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) was met for iron but not for zinc.


The schoolchildren of Kumi district had a predominantly vegetable based diet. Foods of animal origin were consumed occasionally. The iron content in the selected foods was high and variable, and higher than in similar ingredients from Kenya and Mali, while the zinc concentrations were generally in accordance with reported values. The total daily zinc (mg) intake does not meet the daily RNI. The iron intake is adequate according to RNI, but due to iron contamination and reduced bioavailability, RNI may not be met in a vegetable based diet. More studies are needed to investigate possible sources of contamination.

Zinc; iron; Uganda; Kumi District; micronutrients; 24-hour recall