Is iodine deficiency still a problem in sub-Saharan Africa? A review

Sanjoy Saha, Brenda A.Z. Abu, Yasaman Jamshidi-Naeini, Upasana Mukherjee, Makenzie Miller, Li Ling Peng, Wilna Oldewage-Theron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Iodine is an essential trace mineral, vital for its functions in many physiological processes in the human body. Both iodine deficiency (ID) and excess are associated with adverse health effects; ID and excess iodine intake have both been identified in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The review aims to (1) review the iodine status among populations in SSA until October 2018, and (2) identify populations at risk of excess or inadequate iodine intakes. A systematic search of relevant articles was carried out by a seven-member research team using PubMed, Science Direct and Scopus. A total of twenty-two articles was included for data extraction. Of the articles reviewed, the majority sought to determine the prevalence of iodine status of the study populations; others measured the impact of uncontrolled and unmonitored salt iodisation on iodine excess and tested the effectiveness of water iodisation. Although iodine status varied largely in study populations, ID and excessive iodine intake often coexisted within populations. The implementation of nutrition interventions and other strategies across SSA has resulted in the reduction of goitre prevalence. Even so, goitre prevalence remains high in many populations. Improvements in access to iodised salt and awareness of its importance are needed. The emerging problem of excess iodine intakes, however, should be taken into consideration by policy makers and programme implementers. As excessive iodine intakes may have adverse health effects greater than those induced by iodine deficient diets, more population-based studies are needed to investigate iodine intakes of the different population groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-566
Number of pages13
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • Deficiency
  • Excess
  • Iodine
  • Sub-Saharan Africa


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