Causes of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the result of a lack of essential nutrients resulting in poor health.
Malnutrition is usually caused by:

  • Poor diet - if a person does not eat enough food, or if what they eat does not provide them with the nutrients they require for good health, they suffer from malnutrition.
  • Mental health problems - some patients with mental health conditions, such as depression, may develop eating habits which lead to malnutrition. Patients with anorexia nervosa or bulimia may develop malnutrition because they are ingesting too little food.
  • Mobility problems - people with mobility problems may suffer from malnutrition, simply because they either cannot get out enough to buy foods, or find preparing them too arduous.
  • Digestive disorders and stomach conditions - some people may eat properly, but their bodies cannot absorb the nutrients they need for good health. Examples include patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Individuals who suffer from Celiac disease have a genetic disorder that makes them intolerant to gluten. Patients with Celiac disease have a higher risk of damage to the lining of their intestines, resulting in poorer food absorption. Patients who experience serious bouts of diarrhea and/or vomiting may lose vital nutrients and are at higher risk of suffering from malnutrition.
  • Alcoholism - an alcoholic is a person who suffers from alcoholism – the body is dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism is a chronic (long-term) disease. Individuals who suffer from alcoholism can develop gastritis, or pancreas damage. These problems also seriously undermine the body’s ability to digest food, absorb certain vitamins, and produce hormones which regulate metabolism.
  • Food shortages - Food shortages are a significant cause of malnutrition in many parts of the world.
  • Food prices and food distribution - Some leading economists say that famine is closely linked to high food prices and problems with food distribution.
  • Lack of breast feeding - experts say that lack of breastfeeding leads to malnutrition in infants and children.

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