What is Malnutrition?

Malnutrition Definition

It is the state of body occurred due to under nutrition or over nutrition. Maximum number of Malnutrition cases is found in underdeveloped countries.

  • Over nutrition may cause obesity and overweight where as under nutrition may cause many problem mostly during pregnancy and babies below two years.
  • It can be scientifically referred as Protein and Energy Malnutrition (PEM).
  • It is due to the consumption of low nutrition or high calorie food.
  • In under developing countries malnutrition problem appear due to continuous starving or having food without micronutrients.
  • In pregnancy there is increased demand for high nutrients and children below two years of age need complete breast feeding.

Ignoring the requirements of these two stages may give permanent problem of malnutrition.

Types of Malnutrition

The two main kinds of under nutrition are protein-energy malnutrition and deficiencies of good diet. PEM is further classified into marasmus and kwashiorkor. In marasmus there is severe in lack of calories and proteins where as in kwashiorkor there is only protein lack.
Types in common micronutrition deficiencies are a lack of

  • vitamin A
  • iodine
  • iron

Body requires more nutrition during pregnancy and at the time of healing. It should be fed with healthy diet during requirement to avoid these types of malnutrition problems.

Causes of Malnutrition

The top causes of malnutrition include bariatric surgery and anorexia nervosa. In elderly people causes for malnutrition includes social factors, psychological stress and physical factors.
The other causes of malnutrition are poverty in under privileged society.

  • In general we can say diseases, dietary practices, food prices and poverty, agricultural productivity and future threats are major causes for malnutrition.
  • Disease caused malnutrition may be a consequence of many problems like chronic illness and gastroenteritis.
  • Lack of breast feeding will lead to malnutrition in infants and children below two years.
  • Inflation and price crisis restricts buying nutritious food so becomes a cause for malnutrition.

Symptoms of Malnutrition

Signs of malnutrition can be noticed in all organs of the body.

  • Face becomes moon face or simian facies scientifically known as kwashiorkor or marasmus respectively.
  • Eyes show the symptoms like dry eyes, periorbital edema and pale conjunctiva.
  • Mouth related malnutrition signs are spongy bleeding gums, cheilitis, Angular stomatitis, glossitis and parotid enlargement.
  • Hair becomes sparse, dull, flag sign and brittle.
  • Skin becomes loose and glares less along with shows signs like dryness and poor wound healing.
  • Person facing malnutrition problem becomes lethargic and apathetic.
  • All body systems like skeletal system, abdomen region, cardiovascular system and neurological system show signs of malnutrition.

Tests & Diagnosis of Malnutrition

As soon as the body responds immediately to infections and shows decreased natural immunity then medical consultation and diagnosis is essential.

Lab testing of blood samples and other medical tests suggested by the physician confirm malnutrition. If it is positive then further investigation or medication should be followed as prescribed by the consultant doctor.


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