Tackling adolescent nutritional anemia


To conduct research on anemia among adolescents and advocate for scaling up interventions among adolescents.

According to the WHO, anemia is now the number one global cause of lost Disability Adjusted Life Years for boys and girls 10 to 14 years of age, and for girls 15 to 19 years of age. Thus far, anemia reduction efforts have largely focused on increasing iron intake by promoting the consumption of iron-rich foods, food fortification with iron, iron supplementation, and biofortification. Sight and Life has identified menstrual period, and more specifically, the contribution of heavy menses to low body iron stores and subsequent iron deficiency anemia.  Our current initiatives include:

  • Alliance for Anemia Actions (AAA). Sight and Life has been involved in the set-up of the AAA, which has four workstreams to advocate for the acceleration of anemia action: an investment strategy; a national anemia action; a technical workstream; and an integrated research agenda. We are now officially a part of the integrated research agenda group.
  • Nutritional Anemia: Second Edition. In collaboration with ETH and UBC, we’ve published an updated version of our Nutritional Anemia book. This book summarizes the current state of evidence on the multifactorial causes of anemia, with a specific focus on nutritional anemia, and serves as a comprehensive resource for those involved in global health and nutrition policy, strategy, programming, or research.

  • Research: Sight and Life is conducting three research studies on anemia among adolescents, with a focus on the menstrual cycle, in collaboration with WUR, ETH and TRUE:
    • Iron absorption and variations of iron status parameters, hepcidin, inflammatory markers, and sex hormones during the menstrual cycle. This exploratory study will be conducted among 10 women in Switzerland. Data collection started in November 2022. 
    • Measuring menstrual iron loss during the menstrual cycle using the iron isotope dilution technique. This exploratory study will be conducted among 10 women in Switzerland. Starts February/March 2023. 
    • Effect of ibuprofen and MMS on menstrual blood loss and iron status in menstruating Malawian adolescent girls: a 2×2 factorial, randomized controlled trial. We will assess the effect of supplementation with iron-containing micronutrients and ibuprofen on menstrual blood volume loss, menstrual iron loss, iron status, menstrual duration, menstrual cycle length, vaginal microbiota, and self-reported indicators of menstrual blood loss and quality of life in 450 menstruating Malawian girls aged 15-20 years.