press release
Published: 22 May 2023

New study to tackle iodine deficiency in adolescents and young women by raising awareness

Concerns about iodine deficiency, and ways to prevent it in Europe and beyond, will be addressed in a new international project.

The EUthyroid2 project aims to raise awareness of iodine in adolescents and among women up to the age of 24 before pregnancy, through a collaborative effort of scientists from various European institutions, including Dr Sarah Bath, Lecturer in Public Health Nutrition at the University of Surrey and Professor Jayne Woodside from the Centre of Public Health and Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast. The project will conduct implementation studies and community-based randomised controlled trials to achieve its objectives.

Previous studies by the EUthyroid consortium have uncovered a concerning lack of awareness of the importance of iodine nutrition for healthy living.

Dr Bath, said: “Iodine deficiency is a public-health concern because iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones, which are vital for brain development during pregnancy. There are concerns that iodine deficiency may have consequences in later life, such as lower IQ.

“Many people do not know why iodine is important and where it comes from in the diet. What we hope to do in this study is raise awareness of iodine and the problems of becoming deficient. The study will focus on adolescents and young women, who are most likely to be at risk of iodine deficiency.”

Iodine deficiency is easily preventable through fortification programmes, most commonly by iodisation of salt for human and animal consumption. However, in the UK, salt is not routinely iodised, and iodised table salt is not widely available.

Dr Henry Völzke, MD, who coordinates the project for the University Medicine Greifswald, Germany, said: “Iodine deficiency imposes tremendous costs on the healthcare systems of affected regions but can easily be prevented.

“As a public health project, EUthyroid2 is not only science, but will also serve our societies. By finding models to raise the awareness on the importance of iodine for a healthy life in young people, EUthyroid2 will lay the foundation for a cost-effective way to eradicate iodine deficiency-related disorders.”

Notes to editors

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