Recent Survey Shows That 1 in 3 People Do Not Know Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Despite 1 in 10 Currently Suffering or Having Suffered From the Condition

LONDON, April 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

- Landmark European Iron Deficiency Survey highlights the lack of awareness of the
condition, which currently impacts more people than both diabetes and chronic heart
failure worldwide. 
- The survey findings published to coincide with World Health Day 2016, which this year
will be dedicated to raising awareness of diabetes. 
- Market research measuring awareness across 7 markets, with over 1,000 surveyed in each
locality, finds that 1 in 10 people suffer or have suffered from iron deficiency
during the course of their lives. Out of these, 1 in 3 people had not heard of iron
deficiency before being diagnosed. 
- Those countries with the lowest awareness of iron deficiency and iron deficiency
anaemia were Portugal and France, whilst those with the highest awareness include
Sweden and the UK.  

One in three Europeans surveyed do not know the symptoms of iron deficiency, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Vifor Pharma[1]. The market research, undertaken by Kantar Health, highlights a profound lack of understanding and awareness of the symptoms of both iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia, at a time when iron deficiency is more prevalent than diabetes and chronic heart failure worldwide[2],[3],[4].

(Logo: )

The survey of over 10,000 adults across seven countries highlights the significant lack of awareness around the symptoms associated with the condition, despite almost 50% of sufferers confirming the condition to have a notable negative impact on their working life, and one in three describing their condition as severe or very severe at the time of diagnosis.

The summary report launched today and available on, also highlights how men and women share many of the concerns around iron deficiency impacting their everyday lives, such as a lack of concentration and impairment to their professional productivity. Over a third of patients surveyed also feel that iron deficiency impacts their personal relationships negatively; for example, one in four feel the condition affects their sex life.

The survey found that it took an average of over 2.5 years for the sufferers to be prescribed a treatment for iron deficiency. This is despite patients' perceiving the condition to negatively impact their own wellbeing more than any other aspect of quality of life. For example, more than 60% of patients find that iron deficiency has a negative impact on their ability to concentrate and half stated that it stopped them from being active.

Professor Toby Richards, Professor of Surgery at University College London, commented:

"Published on World Health Day, this report highlights that despite iron deficiency affecting a larger population than many other conditions, the lack of understanding and recognition is far greater. It also clearly illustrates that there may be a large undiagnosed population who are unaware of the symptoms caused by iron deficiency. With half of those sufferers who did not experience any symptoms discovering their condition by accident during a visit to their doctor, we must now look to raise awareness of iron deficiency as a European-wide issue. 

The situation is more extreme in those unwell or with illness where iron deficiency and anaemia can affect a third of people coming into hospital, and this is associated with a longer hospital stay and worse outcome."  

Symptoms not widely known 

The report also revealed that the main symptom that drove those to consult a health care professional was tiredness/fatigue, which was mentioned as the first symptom experienced, followed by pale skin and poor attention.

Of those 6,986 people surveyed and aware of iron deficiency, 64% recognised tiredness/fatigue as the most common symptom, which can be attributed to iron deficiency. This was followed by suffering symptoms including; pale skin (37%), headaches (21%), poor attention (20%) and (19%) brittle (poor condition) of nails respectively. Women were found to be more concerned about the cognitive, as well as physical impact of the condition, which can include the paleness of skin, brittle nails and hair loss[5]. However, the survey also identified that many symptoms were not recognised or known by those surveyed, these include; mouth ulcers, infection, sore tongue, restless legs syndrome, cold intolerance and craving non-food items.

Symptoms and
Comorbidities Description

Mental Feeling mentally tired, irritable, dizzy or losing
fatigue concentration quickly

Mouth ulcers Sore, white patches on the inside of mouth or sore, red,
flaky cracks at one or both sides of mouth

Infection May cause more infections than usual, such as coughs and colds

Shortness of Reduced physical capacity

Craving Craving to eat ice or non-food items such as clay, dirt, ash
non-food and starch

Restless legs A disturbing need to move legs even when resting

Hair loss Losing clumps of hair or more hair than normal

Headaches Repeated headaches

Sore tongue Affects the surface of the tongue making it feel sore or
gives a dry mouth

Paleness Most noticeable on the face, nails, inner mouth, and lining of eyes

Physical Feeling physically tired
fatigue /

Brittle nails Chip and crack easily

Cold Cold hands and/or feet may mean that there is not enough
intolerance oxygen being delivered in the blood

Table 1: General symptoms and perceptions around iron deficiency. Adapted from Clark (2008) 

Professor Toby Richards continued: "This survey further illustrates that this is a condition that is insidious. Iron deficiency is one of the most frequent metabolic disorders at a European level, despite being easy to diagnose and treat. Although clinical studies show that treating iron deficiency improves peoples' quality of life, it remains underlooked and is often ignored. Given its prevalence and impact on its sufferers, it should not be left untreated."

Editor's Notes:  

Research Methodology  

The survey was conducted by Kantar Health during July - August 2015, across 7 countries including: UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden - with over 1,000 nationally-representative adult respondents in each market. By analysing the total number of participants who took part in the survey vs. those who qualified being aware of ID and/or IDA it allowed to calculate awareness levels amongst the general population. 1,000 adults aged 18+ per country took part in this nationally representative survey. The survey was administered online and took the form of a 5-minute quantitative interview with the general population and a further 20 minute questionnaire for those who self-reported being diagnosed with ID/IDA. Various quality control procedures were in place in order to reach a unique, genuine and representative audience in each country.  

About Vifor Pharma 

Vifor Pharma, a company of the Galenica Group, is a world leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceutical products for the treatment of iron deficiency. The company also offers a diversified portfolio of prescription medicines as well as over-the-counter (OTC) products. Vifor Pharma, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, has an increasingly global presence and a broad network of affiliates and partners around the world. For more information about Vifor Pharma and its parent company Galenica, please visit and

About Kantar Health 

Kantar Health is a leading global healthcare consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world's leading pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device and diagnostic companies. It combines evidence-based research capabilities with deep scientific, therapeutic and clinical knowledge, commercial development know-how, and brand and marketing expertise to help clients evaluate opportunities, launch products and maintain brand and market leadership.

Kantar Health deeply understands the influence of patients, payers and physicians, especially as they relate to the performance and payment of medicines and the delivery of healthcare services. Its 600+ healthcare industry specialists work across the product lifecycle, from preclinical development to launch, acting as catalysts to successful decision-making in life sciences and helping clients prioritize their product development and portfolio activities, differentiate their brands and drive product success post-launch. Kantar Health is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP. For more information, please visit


1) The European iron deficiency survey. Data on file; 2016, Vifor Pharma.
2) Miller JL, Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease Cold Spring Harb
Perspect Med 2013; doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a011866.
3) WHO - Media centre - Diabetes (Fact sheet Ndegree(s)312, updated January 2015.
 Available at Last accessed 14.
March 2016.
4) Ponikowski P et al., Heart failure: preventing disease and death worldwide White
paper: 2014 DOI: 10.1002/ehf2.12005.
5) Clark SF, Iron deficiency anemia Nutr Clin Pract. Apr-May; .2008 23(2):128-41doi:

For media inquiries, contact: 
Ollie Pratt 
FTI Consulting 
+44(0)203-727-1428 / +44(0)7807-29-5691  



Vifor Pharma

PR Newswire

Dit persbericht is via ANP Pers Support naar internationale (vak en online) media gestuurd. Heb je nieuws voor buitenlandse journalisten? Bekijk dan onze mogelijkheden of neem contact met ons op.

Verstuur nu éénmalig een persbericht

Verstuur persberichten en beeldmateriaal naar redacties in binnen- en buitenland. Via het ANP-net, het internationale medianetwerk van PR Newswire of met een perslijst op maat.

Direct persbericht versturen