The potential of biofortification technologies for wheat and rice to fill the nutritional Zn intake gap in China

Lu Liu, Alida Melse‐Boonstra, Wopke van der Werf, Fusuo Zhang, Wen Feng Cong*, Tjeerd-Jan Stomph

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Bachground: Zinc (Zn) deficiency in humans is of worldwide concern. The objective of this study was to investigate the Zn intake gap in Chinese adults and identify the potential role of biofortification technologies for wheat and rice, including crop nutrient management and breeding, in filling the gap.
Results: We use data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey in 2011 to identify food consumption patterns and dietary Zn intake of 4512 adults to define and quantify the Zn intake gap in the population. The dietary Zn intake gap of surveyed adults ranged from −0.8 to 6.53 mg day−1 across nine provinces and differences were associated with differences in food consumption patterns. Both dietary Zn intake and Zn gap for males were higher than for females. The potential of changes in five management strategies (improved nitrogen fertilization, improved phosphorus fertilization, foliar Zn fertilization, improved water management and growing varieties reaching the grain Zn breeding target) was analyzed. Breeding and foliar Zn fertilization were shown to be the two most effective management strategies that could increase dietary intake by 1.29 to 5 mg Zn day−1 dependent on sex and province.
Conclusion: This study shows that the Zn gap varied across regions in China, with some large enough to warrant interventions. Wheat and rice as two major Zn sources could be targeted without a direct need for dietary diversification. By promoting both biofortification breeding of wheat and rice and Zn fertilization, dietary Zn intake could be enhanced to contribute to human health improvement in China.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13149
Pages (from-to)2651-2659
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number5
Early online date20 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2024


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