A LACK of iodine may partly explain why Australian schoolchildren are being beaten in international tests by their counterparts in Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, an expert on iodine deficiency says.
Writing for Fairfax Media, Cres Eastman, a professor of medicine at the University of Sydney and an internationally noted expert on iodine deficiency, says the top-performing education systems, including Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong, have diets that are rich in iodine, because of salt iodisation, and the consumption of fish and seaweed.
Iodine deficiency is not simply a consequence of poverty and poor nutrition confined to the people of the developing world. Work practice changes in the dairy industry in Australia over the past two decades has resulted in a decrease in iodine content in milk and dairy products, and this coupled with the reluctance of consumers to purchase iodised salt for home use has seen iodine deficiency appear as a significant public health problem in Australia.
The situation has been compounded by the reluctance of the local food industry to use iodised salt in food manufacturing and processing.
While he doesn’t come right out and name it, this decline in salt usage can likely be traced back to the public health lobby’s war on salt. Lower intellectual performance could thus be seen as a further unintended consequence of the demonisation of sodium chloride, a campaign which has a lot to answer for even as it stands out as one of the more bizarre, ill-thought out, and fanatical health crusades of the past hundred years (and there have been some doozies).
Of course, if Australians want to get more iodine into their diets, all they have to do is remove the ban on iodine-rich kombu, something the nervous Nellies in Canberra decided was far too dangerous for ordinary folk to be exposed to despite it being just fine for the long-lived and academically excellent Japanese who produce the stuff.