When a person does not consume enough calories, protein, or micronutrients, they are considered undernourished. It has a negative impact on physical and mental function, as well as alterations in body composition and cell mass. Undernutrition is a major public health issue that causes the greatest death rate in children and has long-term physiologic consequences.
Stunting, wasting, and being underweight are all signs of malnutrition. If undernutrition happens during pregnancy or before the age of two years, it can cause long-term physical and mental difficulties. Starvation, chronic hunger, Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), and/or Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) are all symptoms of extreme undernutrition (MAM).
Micronutrient deficits have different indications and symptoms depending on which micronutrient is missing. Undernourished people, on the other hand, are frequently slender and short, with low energy levels and swelling in the legs and abdomen. People who are malnourished are prone to illnesses and are frequently chilly.
Malnutrition due to a lack of micronutrients
Micronutrient malnutrition is caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Iodine, Vitamin A, and iron deficits are the most frequent in the world. Micronutrient deficits are especially common among children and pregnant women in low-income nations.
Iron deficiency is the most prevalent cause of anaemia, but it can also be caused by other micronutrient deficits and illnesses. This disorder can have serious health ramifications.
It is possible to have both overnutrition and micronutrient deficits at the same time, a condition known as the double burden of malnutrition.
Malnutrition due to a lack of protein and calories
The term ‘undernutrition’ is sometimes used to refer to protein–energy deficiency (PEM). This disease is characterised by a lack of micronutrients as well as an imbalance in protein consumption and energy expenditure. It differs from calorie restriction in that calorie restriction isn’t always associated with negative health consequences. One cause of malnutrition is hypoalimentation (underfeeding).
Kwashiorkor and marasmus are two types of PEM that commonly coexist. Kwashiorkor is caused by a lack of protein in the diet. Edema, wasting, liver enlargement, hypoalbuminaemia, and steatosis are some of the symptoms; the illness can also cause skin and hair depigmentation. The illness is also distinguished by a characteristic bloating of the abdomen, which hides the sufferer’s malnutrition. ‘Kwashiorkor’ is a word that signifies ‘displaced child.’ It refers to “the sickness that the baby gets when the next kid is born,” as it frequently occurs when the older child is weaned off of breastfeeding and into a high-carbohydrate diet.
Marasmus (which means ‘to waste away’) can be caused by a diet that is inadequate in both protein and calories over time. As a result, the sufferer’s metabolism adapts in order to survive. Severe wasting with little or no edoema, limited subcutaneous fat, and abnormal serum albumin levels are the main signs. Famine, severe food restriction, or severe anorexia have all been associated with it in the past. Extreme muscle wasting and a gaunt appearance characterise these conditions.
Overnutrition is caused by a high intake of energy-dense meals and beverages combined with a lack of physical exercise. It produces overweight, which is defined as a BMI of 25 or higher, and can lead to obesity (a BMI of 30 or more). Obesity has become a big public health concern around the world. Overeating has been linked to noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. As a result, recognising and eliminating urgent risk factors has become a top priority for public health. Diet-induced obesity in dads and mothers around the time of conception has been shown to negatively programme the health outcomes of multiple generations, according to new research.