Background: Mandatory fortification of bread with iodised salt is proposed to address the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in Australia and New Zealand. The impacts of fortification require baseline data of iodine status among vulnerable sectors of the population. Objective: To assess the iodine status of healthy women and to investigate consumer understanding and attitudes related to the proposed mandatory iodine fortification programme.
Design: Cross-sectional sample of 78 non-pregnant women aged 20-55 y was conveniently sampled in
Wollongong, NSW. A single 24-hr urine sample was collected for urinary iodine concentration (UIC). A selfadministered questionnaire assessed consumer understanding, perceptions and attitudes related to iodine fortification.
Outcomes: Median UIC = 56 μg/L (IQR = 41-68), indicating mild iodine deficiency. Knowledge about
iodine was poor with less than half associating low iodine status with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Health education and supplementation, particularly at the medical practitioner interface, was considered the best strategy for improving low iodine levels.
Conclusions: The iodine status of women in one region of New South Wales was low. These data add support to the need for a national approach to address iodine intake which includes an accompanying consumer education campaign.