Malnutrition


Abdomen | Endocrinology and Metabolism | Malnutrition (Disease)


Description

Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess (too high an intake), or in the wrong proportions. A number of different nutrition disorders may arise, depending on which nutrients are under or overabundant in the diet.

Causes and Risk factors

In most of the world, malnutrition is present in the form of undernutrition, which is caused by a diet lacking adequate calories and protein. While malnutrition is more common in developing countries, it is also present in industrialized countries. In wealthier nations it is more likely to be caused by unhealthy diets with excess energy, fats, and refined carbohydrates. A growing trend of obesity is now a major public health concern in lower socio-economic levels and in developing countries as well. Because it contributes to both overnutrition and undernutrition, malnutrition is said to be a “double burden.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Malnutrition has shown to be an important concern in women, children, and the elderly. Because of pregnancies and breastfeeding, women have additional nutrient requirements. Children can be at risk for malnutrition even before birth, as their nutrition levels are directly tied to the nutrition of their mothers. Breastfeeding can reduce rates of malnutrition and mortality in children, and educational programs for mothers could have a large impact on these rates.

The elderly have a large risk of malnutrition because of unique complications such as changes in appetite and energy level, and chewing and swallowing problems. Adequate elderly care is essential for preventing malnutrition, especially when the elderly cannot care for themselves. ...