Malnutrition : Causes

Malnutrition refers to both under-nutrition (or sub-nutrition) and over-nutrition.

According to Medilexicon’s medical dictionary: Malnutrition is “Faulty nutrition resulting from malabsorption, poor diet, or overeating.” and Undernutrition is “A form of malnutrition resulting from a reduced supply of food or from inability to digest, assimilate, and use the necessary nutrients.”

Malnutrition can also be defined as the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. Several different nutrition disorders may develop, depending on which nutrients are lacking or consumed in excess.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition is the gravest single threat to global public health.

Subnutrition occurs when an individual does not consume enough food. It may also exist if the person has a poor diet that gives them the wrong balance of basic food groups.

Poor diet may lead to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, among other essential substances, sometimes resulting in scurvy – a condition where an individual has a vitamin C (ascorbic acid) deficiency. Similarly, infants or children who are on special or poor diets for any number of economic or social reasons may be prone to scurvy.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of people globally who were malnourished stood at 923 million in 2007, an increase of over 80 million since the 1990-92 base period.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that malnutrition is by far the largest contributor to child mortality globally, currently present in half of all cases.
WHO adds that malnutrition during childhood usually results in worse health and lower educational achievements during adulthood. Malnourished children tend to become adults who have smaller babies.

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