Every fourth Indian man has anaemia: Lancet study
A study published in The Lancet Global Health journal on Friday, based on data from at least 100,000 males aged between 15 to 54, has found that one in four men in India suffers from anaemia.
Pregnant women and kids are particularly vulnerable to anaemia, which refers to insufficient red blood cells or their oxygen-carrying capacity in the body. Iron deficiency is thought to be the most common cause for it globally. Other conditions like folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin A deficiencies as well as parasitic infections and inherited disorders can also cause anaemia, which is associated with drowsiness, weakness, fatigue and dizziness in its severe form.
According to the study conducted from January 2015 to December 2016, around 18% of the males had mild anaemia, 5% moderate anaemia, and 0.5% severe anaemia, which leads to decreased productivity by causing fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, and lethargy.
“Every fourth man has anaemia. Men still are not included in the government’s anaemia-mukt Bharat [anaemia-free India] initiative, which focuses on women and children,” said the study’s co-author, Ashish Awasthi, who is an assistant professor with Public Health Foundation of India.
As part of the government’s POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) Abhiyaan launched in March 2018, the anaemia-mukt Bharat strategy has been designed to reduce prevalence of anaemia by 3 percentage points per year among children, adolescents and women in the reproductive age group (15–49 years), between the years 2018 and 2022.
Awasthi collaborated with Harvard University, UN World Food Programme, and Germany’s Heidelberg, Giessen, and Goettingen universities for the study.
The findings of the study are consistent with the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), which found 22.7% of males aged 15-49 had anaemia, defined by haemoglobin levels less than 13 grams per deciliter. The normal range for haemoglobin for men is 13.5 to 17.5 grams per deciliter and women 12.0 to 15.5 grams per deciliter. Studies on anaemia in low-income and middle-income countries largely focus on women of reproductive age and children. It is because anaemia during pregnancy and early childhood is associated with low birth weight, poor mental and motor development, and even death.
“While anaemia among women was more than twice as common and is more likely to be moderate or severe than among men, anaemia in men is a frequent health problem,” said Harvard University’s Pascal Geldsetzer, the senior author of the report, in a statement. Awasthi said that most anaemia cases are due to low iron levels, which can be prevented and treated with supplementation and food fortification with iron. “Though male anaemia does not affect the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, it may reduce overall work performance and quality of life, especially in moderate and severe cases,” said Awasthi.
Dr Srikant Sharma, senior consultant, internal medicine, Moolchand Hospital, said, “Anaemia in men largely goes unnoticed because unlike women, who get screened during pregnancy, the men don’t get screened unless they are severely anaemic and that has resulted in a serious health complication. The problem is common in men, though it is not as severe as in women and children.”