I was just reading this New York Times Op-Ed and thought it was worth sharing.
Author Nicholas D. Kristof discusses his views on the importance of fortification of foods with micronutrients such as folic acid, iron, and iodine. He cites prevention of birth defects as the main reason foods should have important nutrients added to them. He also brings David Dodson,founder of Project Healthy Children in to weigh in on the subject.
I think that Mr. Dodson has a point when he says that it is much cheaper to prevent birth defects than to treat them. A year’s supply of folic acid, for example, “costs less than a hamburger.” However, I also think this is a good spot to repeat what one of my dietetics professors said: The only thing a vitamin can cure is a deficiency of that vitamin.
As Mr. Dodson puts it, “It’s not a sexy world health issue, but it’s about the nuts and bolts of putting together a healthy population. Putting small amounts of iron, iodine and folic acid in the food supply hasn’t drawn attention the way it does when you treat someone who is sick or in a refugee camp. Until recently, this has been off everybody’s radar screen.”
While I think fortifying foods for reasons such as the prevention of birth defects is a positive thing, packing not-so-healthy foods with nutrients to get people to buy them is dishonest and kind of sleazy.