World Iron Awareness Week takes place from 26 August to 1 September this year. The campaign shines a spotlight on an issue that affects many Kiwis but this year it will focus on the epidemic young women in particular are facing - whether they be meat eaters or non-meat eaters - in relation to iron deficiency.
One billion people globally are estimated by the World Health Organisation to be suffering from iron deficiency related anaemia. Although iron deficiency anaemia occurs at all ages and involves both the sexes, adolescent girls are more prone to it.
The highest prevalence of global iron deficiency anaemia is between the ages of 12 and 15 years when requirements are at peak. In some countries, up to 50% of adolescent girls have been reported to be anaemic.
Here in Aotearoa, the statistics don’t look much better. Based on the most recent national nutrition survey from 2009, one in fourteen women are iron deficient and, worryingly, a third of teenage girls do not achieve their daily iron requirements, with more research needed to understand the current situation.
What has this meant for our already under pressure district health boards? Hospital admissions - primarily due to iron deficiency anaemia - has crept up from an annual $3.2 million to $6.7m over the past 10 years, according to Ministry of Health figures and over the past three years the Ministry of Health has spent a staggering $20 million on treating iron deficiency.
 Murray CJL, Salomon JA, Mathers CD, Lopez AD. The global burden of disease. Geneva: World Health Organization. (2002).
 Prevention of Iron Deficiency Anaemia in Adolescents. Role of Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation. World Health Organisation. (2011).  University of Otago and Ministry of Health. (2011). A Focus on Nutrition: Key findings of the 2008/09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
 University of Otago and Ministry of Health. (2011). A Focus on Nutrition: Key findings of the 2008/09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
 Stuff.co.nz More spent on low iron hospitalisations as meat intake 1st January 2019 declineshttps://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/108767316/more-spent-on-low-iron-hospitalisations-as-meat-intake-declines