Australia’s Experience with Iodine Nutrition: Lessons Learned

Article ID: 556469

Released: 23-Sep-2009 1:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: American Thyroid Association

Newswise — According to Australian researchers, iodine deficiency, which can result in thyroid conditions in adults and may cause mental handicap and contribute disproportionately to perinatal thyroid disease and death, is on the rise in Europe and Australia.

While in the developing world than 30 million children are born unprotected from iodine deficiency, and perhaps two billion adults worldwide have inadequate iodine intake, the re-emergence in iodine deficiency in Australia and Europe is largely due to a reluctance of food manufacturers to add iodine to table salt or food products.

When the American Thyroid Association (ATA) holds it 80th Annual Meeting September 23-27, 2009 at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, Professor Cres Eastman, AM, MD, of the University of Sydney Medical School, will explain the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in Australia, especially in the state of Tasmania.

“Until the 1950s, epidemic goiter from nutritional iodine deficiency was highly prevalent in Australia’s mountainous eastern states and especially in Tasmania,” explains Dr. Eastman. “When iodine containing sanitizers (iodophors) were introduced into the dairy industry, an ‘accidental public health triumph’ occurred. However, 40 years later, the dairy industry has phased out iodophors, substituting less expensive chlorine-containing sanitizers.”

While iodized salt is available, less than 10 percent of consumers buy it and food manufacturers don’t use iodized salt in their products.

“The result is that the World Health Organization now recognizes Australia as being mildly iodine deficient,’ explains Dr. Eastman. “Because of increased costs and government regulation, food manufacturers have opposed policies that would require them to iodize the salt in their products.”

“Lessons learned” include those about monitoring, publishing epidemiological studies, public health and medical association advocacy, gaining media attention and developing the cooperation of the food industry and pharmaceutical industries. Dr.Eastman’s presentation is Thursday, September 24 at 8:15 a.m..

The American Thyroid Association (ATA) is the lead organization in promoting thyroid health and understanding thyroid biology. The ATA values scientific inquiry, clinical excellence, public service, education, collaboration, and collegiality.

A non-profit medical society founded in 1923, the ATA fulfills its mission through supporting excellence and innovation in research, clinical care, education, and public health. ATA members are physicians and scientists who work to enhance the understanding of thyroid physiology and pathophysiology, improve the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid diseases, and promote the education of physicians, patients, and the public about thyroid disorders. The official journal “Thyroid” of the ATA is published monthly. “Clinical Thyroidology” is published online monthly for the benefit of clinicians and scientists around the world.

Thyroid diseases are among the most common disorders of the endocrine system, affecting almost 13 million Americans alone. The ATA has extensive online information for patients on thyroid disease (in English and Spanish) serving the clinician as a resource for patients and the public who look for reliable information on the internet. To further benefit patients, the ATA publishes an online journal “Clinical Thyroidology for Patients.” The Alliance for Patient Education was formed in 2002 to offer an exchange of information between the ATA and patient education groups: ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc.; the Light of Life Foundation, and the Graves’ Disease Foundation. A public forum is held each year in conjunction with the ATA annual meeting.

The 80th Annual Meeting of the ATA will be in Palm Beach, Florida, from September 23-27, 2009 at The Breakers Hotel. All registration and program information is available at We welcome your participation.

ATA 6066 Leesburg Pike, Suite 550, Falls Church, VA 22041 * (703) 998-8890 (Fax) (703) 998-8893 *


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