To determine the modification of iron status in a group of overweight/mildly obese women following two different weight control programs.
The study subjects were 57 women who were assigned to one of two slightly hypocaloric diets: V (increased consumption of vegetables), or C (increased consumption of cereals, especially breakfast cereals). All data were determined at the start of the study and at 2 and 6 weeks into the dietary intervention period.
Both diets led to a reduction in body weight and heme iron intake, and an increase in the intake of total and non-heme iron, at 2 and 6 weeks. At 6 weeks, a reduction in transferrin levels was seen in C subjects. Subjects with the worst initial iron status (hemoglobin <P25: 12.6 g/l) following C diet showed an increase of mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration at 2 and 6 weeks and improved hemoglobin levels at 6. Also at 6 weeks, the C subjects had more erythrocytes than similar V subjects (only considering women with hemoglobin <P25: 12.6 g/l).
A well-designed hypocaloric diet need not entail a risk of iron deficiency. Breakfast cereals are an important source of non-heme iron and could help to improve iron status, especially in women with poor initial iron levels.