A good level of nutrition is important to consistently keep our body healthy and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Combined with good physical activity and right amount of nutrients, it gives rise to a strong immune system, a healthy weight and lifestyle.
“Malnutrition is a condition that develops due inadequate consumption of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are necessary to maintain a proper functioning of the organs”. Though this condition is present worldwide, it is mainly noticed in developing countries which have high poverty rate, low financial aid and poor sanitation facilities. Malnutrition and undernutrition are two words that are often used interchangeably but they are not actually synonyms. Undernutrition is in fact a part of malnutrition. Undernutrition is often due to lack of availability of nutrient-rich food and overweight and obesity which is mainly due to large consumption of processed foods leads overnutrition condition. Malnutrition however consists of both undernutrition and overnutrition. There are around 1.9 billion adults worldwide who are overweight, while 462 million are underweight. As per the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) almost 14.5% of the Indian population is malnourished. Deficiency of every nutrient creates specific health issues. Malnutrition can lead to:
- Short term and long term diseases
- Injury or damage recoveries at a slow rate
- Difficulty in focussing
- Higher risk to infections
- Muscular weakness
- Weak immune system
WHAT CAUSES MALNUTRITION?
There can be many reasons depending upon the type of malnutrition
- Low consumption of food- Some people are malnourished due to the low intake of food which might be related to their economic position which implies lower nutrients absorbed by the body.
- Mental health-Malnutrition can occur with people having issues related to mental health such as depression, schizophrenia and amnesia etc.
- Consumption of alcohol- Heavy consumption of alcohol can lead to gastritis which makes it difficult to absorb nutrients and digest food. Thus intake of unhealthy foods can lead a person malnourished.
- Low income- Not all families are financially well off to supply their members with a whole meal rich in nutrients nor afford to buy fruits, vegetables, meat and milk etc. Poverty is also another reason for malnourishment as they might not get food every time.
- Diseases- Chronic ailments are also a cause for malnutrition.
- Food habits- Food habits play a major role in healthy lifestyle of an individual. Consumption of processed food spoils health as it is not freshly cooked.
SYMPTOMS OF MALNUTRITION
- Lack of appetite
- Loss of fat
- Difficulty to focus/concentrate
- Longer healing time for injuries
- Loss of fat or muscle mass
- Constant sickness/ illness
- Tender bones
- Skin which is pale and dry
- Brittle nails
- Joint ache
- Bleeding gums
- Sparse hair
- Either skinny or bloated
- Gastrointestinal problems
Malnutrition can be prevented if a person eats a balanced diet, engages in physical workout regularly, avoids processed and preserved foods and consume food low in carbs and fat. Malnutrition can make an enormous impact in the economy of a country especially when it is developing, the impacts are of course negative. It will seriously affect the productivity and mortality rates of a nation thereby generating inefficient human resource capital in the future.