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Iron deficiency risk : Obese and overweight children

A University of Leeds study reveals that overweight or obese children and youth face a heightened risk of iron deficiency. Conducted by nutritional scientists, the research analyzed medical studies from 44 countries, linking iron levels with weight in individuals under 25.

Iron deficiency was found in both underweight and overweight children and adolescents, likely due to inflammation disrupting iron absorption. This deficiency adversely affects brain function and increases the risk of conditions like autism and ADHD, previously recognized in obese adults but now studied in children.

The study underscores a hidden form of malnutrition prevalent in lower- and middle-income countries, where obesity coexists with nutrient-poor yet energy-dense diets, termed 'hidden hunger'. Developing countries face a dual burden of malnutrition, with Africa and Asia witnessing a surge in overweight children alongside persistent stunting.

The researchers stress the need for further studies into interventions like increased physical activity and dietary improvements to mitigate inflammation and enhance iron status in children.