Chronic food deficits affect about 792 million people in the world (FAO 2000) including 20% of the population in developing countries. Worldwide, malnutrition affects one in three people and each of its major forms dwarfs most other diseases globally (WHO, 2000). Malnutrition affects all age groups, but it is especially common among the poor and those with inadequate access to health education and to clean water and good sanitation.
More than 70% of children with protein-energy malnutrition live in Asia. 26% live in Africa and 4% in Latin America and the Caribbean (WHO, 2000). you can also see
- HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCY BEFORE PREGNANCY
- MALNUTRITION: Health Risks for the Child in Long Term
- MALNUTRITION: HEALTH RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH MALNUTRITION SYMPTOMS.
- MALNUTRITION: SCOPE CAUSES OF MALNUTRITION
- Malnutrition: Malnutrition and its medical condition
CAUSES of malnutrition
The causes of malnutrition can be due to the following factors;
Poor diet- Individuals who do not eat enough food, or if what they eat does not provide them with the nutrients they required for good health, they suffer from malnutrition. Poor diet may be caused by one of several different factors.
If the patient develops dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) because of an illness, or when recovering from an illness, he/she may not be able to consume enough of the right nutrients.
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. Such patients may need to have part of the small intestine removed (ileostomy). 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 or vomiting may lose vital nutrients and are at higher risk of suffering from malnutrition.
Alcoholism- The body of an alcoholic is dependent on alcohol. Alcoholism is a chronic disease. Individuals who suffer from alcoholism can develop gastritis, or pancreas damage. These problems undermine the body’s metabolism.
Alcohol contains calories, reducing the patient’s feeling of hunger, so he/she consequently may not eat enough proper food to supply the body with essential nutrients.
Food shortage- In poorer developing nations food shortages are mainly caused by a lack of technology needed for higher yields found in modern agriculture, such as nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. Food shortages are a significant cause of malnutrition in many parts of the world.
Food prices and food distribution- It is ironic that approximately 80% of malnourished children live in developing nations that actually produce food surpluses (Food and Agriculture Organization).
Some leading economists says that famine is closely linked to food prices and problems with food distribution.
Lack of breastfeeding- Lack of breastfeeding, especially in the developing world, leads to malnutrition in infants and children.
In some parts of the world mothers still believe that bottle feeding is better for the child. Another reason for lack of breastfeeding, mainly in the developing world, is that mothers abandon it because they do not know how to get their baby to latch on properly, or suffer pain and discomfort.