Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Iron-deficiency anaemia and its effect on worker productivity and activity patterns.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 15 December 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:1546
  1. V R Edgerton,
  2. G W Gardner,
  3. Y Ohira,
  4. K A Gunawardena,
  5. B Senewiratne


    The effects of iron-deficiency anaemia on workers productivity were studied in a tea plantation in Sri Lanka. The quantity of tea picked per day was studied before and after iron supplementation or placebo treatment. After one month's treatment significantly more tea was picked when the haemoglobin (Hb) concentration was increased by iron supplementation than when it was not. The degree of improvement was greater in more-anaemic subjects (those with concentrations of 6.0-9.0 g Hb/dl). The level of physical activity of anaemic subjects in their everyday environment was also recorded for four or 24 hours continuously both before and after treatment. After three weeks these levels was significantly greater in the iron-treated than matched placebo-treated subjects. The economic implications of increased work productively with iron treatment are evident, particularly in developing countries. These results also provide strong evidence for the clinical impression that people with iron-deficiency anaemia suffer from tiredness and weakness.