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Open Access Research article

Effects of maternal education on diet, anemia, and iron deficiency in Korean school-aged children

Hyeon-Jeong Choi1, Hye-Ja Lee1, Han Byul Jang1, Ju Yeon Park1, Jae-Heon Kang2, Kyung-Hee Park3 and Jihyun Song1*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Metabolic Diseases, Korea National Institute of Health, Cheongwon-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do 363-951, South Korea

2 Department of Family Medicine, Obesity Research Institute, Seoul-Paik Hospital, Inje University, Seoul 100-032, South Korea

3 Department of Family Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University, Anyang, Gyeonggi-do 431-796, South Korea

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:870  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-870

Published: 16 November 2011



We investigated the relationship among socioeconomic status factors, the risk of anemia, and iron deficiency among school-aged children in Korea.


The sample consisted of fourth-grade students aged 10 y recruited from nine elementary schools in Korean urban areas in 2008 (n = 717). Anthropometric and blood biochemistry data were obtained for this cross-sectional observational study. Anemia was defined as hemoglobin levels lower than 11.5 g/dl. Iron deficiency was defined as serum iron levels lower than 40 ug/dl. We also obtained data on parental education from questionnaires and on children's diets from 3-day food diaries. Parental education was categorized as low or high, with the latter representing an educational level beyond high school.


Children with more educated mothers were less likely to develop anemia (P = 0.0324) and iron deficiency (P = 0.0577) than were those with less educated mothers. This group consumed more protein (P = 0.0004) and iron (P = 0.0012) from animal sources than did the children of less educated mothers, as reflected by their greater consumption of meat, poultry, and derivatives (P < 0.0001). Logistic regression analysis revealed a significant inverse relationship between maternal education and the prevalence of anemia (odds ratio: 0.52; 95% confidence interval: 0.32, 0.85).


As a contributor to socioeconomic status, maternal education is important in reducing the risk of anemia and iron deficiency and in increasing children's consumption of animal food sources.