The way forward in Italy for iodine

Antonella Olivieri, Caterina Di Cosmo, Roberto Da Cas, Simona De Angelis, Paolo Stacchini, Augusto Pastorelli, Paolo Vitti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Italy is dealing with iodine deficiency since ancient times. In 1848 an ad hoc committee appointed by the king of Sardinia, identified extensive areas afflicted by endemic goiter and endemic cretinism in Piedmont, Liguria and Sardinia. Since then many epidemiological studies have been conducted in our country. These showed that iodine deficiency was present not only in mountain areas but also in coastal areas. In 1972 the iodization of salt at 15 mg/kg was allowed by law and iodized salt was distributed on request to selected endemic areas. Five years later the distribution was extended to the whole country. However the sale of iodized salt was not mandatory at that time and only a small fraction of the Italian population started using iodized salt. In 1991 the content of iodine in the salt was raised to 30 mg/kg and in 2005 a nationwide salt iodization program was finally implemented. Some years later a nationwide monitoring program of iodine prophylaxis was also implemented. Since 2005 the sale of iodized salt in Italian supermarkets has increased (34% in 2006, 55% in 2012), although it has been observed that the use of iodized salt is still low in the communal eating areas and in the food industry. These data are coherent with recent epidemiological studies showing that some regions in our country are still characterized by mild iodine deficiency and a high frequency of goiter and other iodine deficiency disorders. This implies that further efforts should be made to successfully correct iodine deficiency in Italy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalMinerva Medica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Epidemiology
  • Iodine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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