More Evidence in Favour of Iron Pots
Ethiopia - Dimma refugee camp, demonstration of a fuel-saving cooker.
In Field Exchange 5 we published a summary of research conducted in Brazil which showed that cooking in iron pots and pans might increase the iron content of foods and that this might be a valuable strategy to help reduce incidence of anaemia in emergency affected populations. A more recent study in Ethiopia produced similar results.
The researchers undertook a community-based randomised controlled trial to assess the effects of iron or aluminium cooking pots in young Ethiopian children. The primary outcomes were change in children's haemoglobin concentration, and weight, or length over the study period. The study also involved a laboratory analysis of total and available iron in traditional Ethiopian foods cooked in iron, aluminium and clay pots.
Four hundred and seven children, one per household, were recruited to the study. The change in haemoglobin concentration was significantly greater in the iron pot group than in the aluminium-pot group. The mean difference between the groups in weight and length gain to 12 months (of age) was 0.1 Kg and 0.6 cm respectively. The laboratory study showed that total and available iron was greatest in food cooked in iron pots, except for available iron in legumes for which there was no difference between types of pot.
Interpretation: Ethiopian children fed food from iron pots had lower rates of anaemia and better growth than children whose food was cooked in aluminium pots. Provision of iron cooking pots for households in less-developed countries may be a useful method to prevent iron deficiency anaemia.
Adish. A et al (1999): Effect of consumption of food cooked in iron pots on iron status and growth of young children: a randomised trial. The Lancet, Vol. 353, pp 712-716, Feb 27th. 1999
Taken from Field Exchange Issue 7, July 1999