Iodine status in UK–An accidental public health triumph gone sour

Jayne V. Woodside, Karen R. Mullan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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The improvement in iodine status among the UK population from the 1930s onwards has been described as an ‘accidental public health triumph’ despite the lack of any iodine fortification program. However, iodine deficiency in the UK has re-emerged in vulnerable groups and is likely due to a combination of changing farming practices, dietary preferences and public health priorities. The UK is now among only a minority of European countries with no legislative framework for iodine fortification. The experience of folic acid fortification and the 28-year delay in its implementation lays bare the political difficulties of introducing any fortification program in the UK. If iodine fortification is not an imminent possibility, then it is important to explore other options: how to change farming practice especially on organic farms; encourage dairy intake; protect and expand our public health programs of milk provision for vulnerable groups and embark on education programs for women of childbearing potential and healthcare professionals. This review explores how the UK may have arrived at this juncture and how the iodine status of the nation may be improved at this time of major political and public health upheaval.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Early online date29 Nov 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Nov 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • iodine deficiency
  • milk
  • public health
  • thyroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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