Malnutrition

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Overview

Malnutrition is a major health problem, especially in undeveloped countries. Water supply, sanitation and hygiene are very important given their direct impact on infectious diseases, especially diarrhea.

Problems with water supply, inadequate nutrition and sanitation are often found in places where is the people’s life is not very normal. The impact of recurrent or persistent diarrhea caused by poor hygiene, causes a susceptibility to infectious diarrhea – especially common among children in developing countries.

Children are more vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition especially while they are infants and during early childhood. Premature babies have special nutritional needs: they need fortified milk or milk formula specially designed for premature infants.



Contents

1. Overview
2. Diseases and how they affect people
3. Causes


Diseases and how they affect people

Malnutrition means essentially that a person was not fed properly and refers both to an insufficient amount of food consumption and excessive consumption of food, types of food considered inadequate and the body’s response to a variety of infections that have resulting in poor absorption of nutrients or the inability to use nutrients properly to maintain optimal health.

From clinically point of view, malnutrition is characterized by inadequate or excess intake of protein, energy and micronutrients (including vitamins) and frequent infections and diseases that result from them.

People suffer from malnutrition if their body is unable to use food they eat, for example due to diarrhea or other diseases (secondary malnutrition), if they consume too many calories and their diet do not provide calories and protein needed for growth and maintenance (undernutrition or malnutrition – in terms of protein and energy).

Malnutrition, in all its forms, increases the risk of disease and early death. Protein malnutrition plays a major role in half of all deaths each year in developing countries.

Severe forms of malnutrition include marasmus (chronic loss of fat, muscle and other tissues), cretinism, and irreversible brain damage due to iodine deficiency, blindness and increased risk of infection and death caused by deficiency of vitamin A.

Nutritional status is compromised in places where people are exposed to infection caused by unsafe water sources and inadequate sanitation. In secondary malnutrition, diarrhea sufferers do not fully benefit fully of food nutrients because frequent stools prevents proper absorption of nutrients.

Moreover, those who are already facing protein undernutrition are more sensitive and less able to recover from infectious diseases.


Causes

Nutritional status of an individual depends on interaction with food consumption, general health and physical environment. Malnutrition is a medical and social disorder often influenced by poverty. Combined with poverty, malnutrition is supported by a range of diseases affecting the development and reduces the ability to work.

Poor water quality and sanitation are important factors in this aspect, but sometimes people with a low standard of living can’t afford to consume drinking water. The conflicts and civil wars affect water sources and contaminate them.

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