The association between black tea consumption and iron status of African women in the North West Province : THUSA study / L. Muller
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Motivation: A variety of factors including food shortage, poor hygiene and low education levels affects the nutritional status of black women. Women also have a high risk for the development of iron deficiency because they lose iron through menstruation, the birth process and a low intake of iron containing foods. All of these factors contribute to an increased risk for the development of iron deficiency anaemia in women. Objectives: The primary purpose of the study was to investigate the association between tea consumption and iron status of African females in the North West Province. To reach this purpose the specific aims were to (1) assess the iron status of women, (2) determine tea intake, and (3) determine the relationship between tea consumption and iron status, taking into account inhibiting and enhancing factors of iron absorption. Methods: A cross-sectional sample of apparently healthy females was taken from five different strata of urbanisation. The subjects were then further divided into two groups, namely younger women (younger than 45.9 years) and older women (older than 46 years). A sample of 920 subjects was used. Data were obtained from dietary, demographic and additional questionnaires, as well as from the taking of blood samples. This study was a sub-study of the THUSA study. Results: A total of 920 subjects participated of which 69.24% were younger women and 30.76% were older women. Due to missing data, the number of subjects for each parameter differed. The mean serum ferritin as well as haemoglobin concentrations were within normal ranges for both groups. The mean dietary iron intake for both groups was below recommendations. No significant correlations were found between serum ferritin or haemoglobin and total tea intake as well as a variety of other dietary factors. The low haemoglobin concentration group of the younger and older women combined had a slightly higher intake of animal protein and ascorbic acid than the high haemoglobin concentration group. On the other hand, the high serum ferritin concentration group had a significantly higher intake of animal protein than the low serum ferritin concentration group. Conclusion: The results of this study indicated that tea does not have an inhibitory effect on the iron status of the female population of the North West Province. However, the investigation of other studies conducted on the same topic had mixed results. Two of seven studies investigated and this study indicated that tea had no inhibitory effect on iron absorption. These two studies, as well as this study were not done in a controlled environment where certain factors can be controlled for, for example, time of tea intake and milk consumption with tea. The other five studies were, however, conducted in an environment where subjects were given test meals, time of tea consumption was regulated and milk consumption with tea was recorded. The conclusion can, therefore, be made that further studies on the South African population in a controlled environment are necessary to give accurate recommendations to the population.
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