Wheat flour fortification is unlikely to benefit the neediest in Guatemala.
The potential impact of wheat flour fortification with iron and folic acid was assessed using data about food purchases from the nationally representative 2000 Guatemalan Living Standards Measurement Survey. Of 7265 households, 35% were indigenous and 57% rural; 11% were extremely poor, 35% were poor, and 54% were nonpoor. The percentage of households that purchased wheat flour, sweet bread, French rolls, and sliced bread in the previous 15 d was 10, 88, 59, and 11%, respectively. The median amount of fortified wheat flour equivalents in purchased foods was 50 g/d per adult equivalent; fortified wheat flour equivalents were 7, 25, and 110 g/d for the poverty groups, 16 g/d in indigenous households and 24 g/d in rural households. Wheat flour fortification contributed 2.3 mg/d of iron and 90 microg/d of folic acid per adult equivalent. Assuming 5% bioavailability, wheat flour fortification provided 2% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and 6% of estimated average requirement (EAR) iron levels for women of reproductive age; values were 1, 3, and 12% of EAR levels for the poverty groups, respectively. Wheat flour fortification met 26% of folic acid RDA and 33% of EAR levels for women; values were 5, 16, and 71% of EAR levels for the poverty groups, respectively. In conclusion, the impact of fortification is likely to be substantial for folate status in nonpoor and urban women but limited in the case of iron status among all social groups. The poorest, rural, indigenous populations who suffer the highest burden of nutritional deficiencies likely benefit least from wheat flour fortification.