Learn more about Malnutrition

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Malnutrition is a general term for the medical condition caused by an improper or insufficient diet. It most often refers to undernutrition resulting from inadequate consumption, poor absorption, or excessive loss of nutrients, but the term can also encompass overnutrition, resulting from overeating or excessive intake of specific nutrients. An individual will experience malnutrition if the appropriate amount, kind or quality of nutrients comprising a healthy diet are not consumed for an extended period of time. An extended period of malnutrition can result in starvation.

Malnutrition as the lack of sufficient nutrients to maintain healthy bodily functions is typically associated with extreme poverty in economically developing countries, while malnutrition as the result of inappropriate dieting, overeating or the absence of a "balanced diet" is often observed in economically developed countries (eg. as indicated by increasing levels of obesity).

Most commonly, malnourished people either do not have enough calories in their diet, or are eating a diet that lacks protein, vitamins, or trace minerals. Medical problems arising from malnutrition are commonly referred to as deficiency diseases. Scurvy is a well-known and now rare form of malnutrition, in which the victim lacks vitamin C.

Common forms of malnutrition include protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) and micronutrient malnutrition. PEM refers to inadequate availability or absorption of energy and proteins in the body. Micronutrient malnutrition refers to inadequate availability of some essential nutrients such as vitamins and trace elements that are required by the body in small quantities. Micronutrient deficiencies lead to a variety of diseases and impair normal functioning of the body. Deficiency in micronutrients such as Vitamin A reduces the capacity of the body to resist diseases. Deficiency in iron, iodine and vitamin A is widely prevalent and represent a major public health challenge. An array of afflictions ranging from stunted growth, reduced intelligence and various cognitive abilities, reduced sociability, reduced leadership and assertiveness, reduced activity and energy, reduced muscle growth and strength, and poorer health overall are directly implicated to nutrient deficiencies. Also, another, although rare, effect of malnutrition is black spots appearing on the skin.

Hunger is the normal psychological response brought on by the physiological condition of needing food. Hunger is often used as a metonym for general undernourishment.


[edit] Politics

Image:Orange ribbon.png
The orange ribbon—an awareness ribbon for hunger.

As of 2006, hunger continues to be a worldwide problem. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, "850 million people worldwide were undernourished in 1999 to 2005, the most recent years for which figures are available" and the number of hungry people has recently been increasing. An orange awareness ribbon is used to raise awareness of hunger in the world.[1]

There is a wide range of opinions as to why this problem is so persistent. Organizations such as Food First raise the issue of food sovereignty and claim that every country on earth (with the possible minor exceptions of some city-states) has sufficient agricultural capacity to feed its own people, but that the "free trade" economic order associated with such institutions as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank prevent this from happening. At the other end of the spectrum, the World Bank itself claims to be part of the solution to hunger, claiming that the best way for countries to succeed in breaking the cycle of poverty and hunger is to build export-led economies that will give them the financial means to buy foodstuffs on the world market.

Amartya Sen won his 1998 Nobel Prize in part for his work demonstrating that hunger in modern times was not typically the product of a lack of food; rather, hunger usually arose from problems in food distribution networks or from governmental policies in the developing world. As of 2006 there are more overweight people than undernourished people in the world.

[edit] Causes of Malnutrition

[edit] Statistics

Number of undernourished people (million) in 2001-2003, according to the FAO, the following countries had 5 million or more undernourished people [2]:

Country Number of Undernourished (million)
India 212.0
China 150.0
Bangladesh 43.1
Democratic Republic of Congo 37.0
Pakistan 35.2
Ethiopia 31.5
Tanzania 16.1
Philippines 15.2
Brazil 14.4
Indonesia 13.8
Vietnam 13.8
Thailand 13.4
Nigeria 11.5
Kenya 9.7
Sudan 8.8
Mozambique 8.3
North Korea 7.9
Yemen 7.1
Madagascar 6.5
Colombia 5.9
Zimbabwe 5.7
Mexico 5.1
Zambia 5.1
Angola 5.0

Note: Malnutrition is a cumulative situation, and not the work of a single day's food intake (or lack thereof). This table represents those whose health and development have been affected by any form of malnutrition, at any severity level, for any reason. This table does not represent the number of people who "went to bed hungry today."

The U.S. Deptartment of Agriculture reported that in 2003, only 1 out of 200 U.S. households with children became so severely food insecure that any of the children went hungry even once during the year. A substantially larger proportion of these same households (3.8 percent) had adult members who were hungry at least one day during the year because of their households' inability to afford enough food.[3]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

de:Mangelernährung fr:Malnutrition es:Desnutrición ko:영양실조 is:Næringarkvilli nl:Ondervoeding ja:栄養失調 ro:Malnutriţie simple:Malnutrition sh:Neishranjenost sv:Malnutrition tl:Malnutrisyon zh:營養不良


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