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Malnutrition Facts

Malnutrition Facts

Rising food rates, food scarcity in areas of conflict, and natural disasters diminish household access to appropriate and adequate food, leading to malnutrition. Malnutrition, in all forms, is a major contributor to disease and early deaths for mothers and children. This article provides information on the facts of this condition.
Poushali Ganguly
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Malnutrition is a common problem in most of the developing countries in Asia and Africa. There are approximately more than 15 million people who die of hunger every year. Thus, it is said that 'the cost involved in making a missile can actually feed around 2000 children for approximately 5 years'. According to a survey, one person out of every twelve people in this world is malnourished. Poor nutrition is seemingly the reason for the death of half of the children worldwide.


The deficiency or insufficiency of required nutrients in the human body is termed as malnutrition. This condition results in various disorders of the internal organs of the body. This condition encompasses both undernutrition and overnutrition. There are very few people in the world who are affected by the latter, however, there are many who are affected by the former. Those who are malnourished are usually diagnosed with nutritional deficiencies. While cases of overnutrition are observed in the developed countries, the cases of undernutrition are mostly observed in the developing countries. There are various fatal diseases, which gradually take shape in the undernourished people, especially children.


There are two types of nutrient deficiencies, which are as follows:
  • Primary
  • Secondary
The condition of primary nutrient deficiency occurs when a person fails to get food and is dependent on somebody for his/her food, whereas the condition of secondary nutrient deficiency occurs when a person does not have the appetite/will to have the available food. Thus, the former is a result of compulsion, while the latter is the result of choice.

This deficiency condition can also be classified on the basis of form, which are as follows:
  • Protein Energy Malnutrition or PEM
  • Micronutrient Malnutrition
PEM is a condition, wherein the body of a person does not have enough proteins to absorb or the body cannot absorb the available proteins and nutrients. Micronutrient malnutrition is a condition wherein, the body is deprived of some of the essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, resulting in various deficiency disorders like scurvy, beri beri, night blindness, etc.


The factors responsible for this condition include the political and economic condition of the country, price hike of food, famine, poverty, etc. Apart from social problems, it can also be due to personal reasons such as depression, alcoholism, digestive disorders, and drug addiction.


In some cases, the condition is mild and asymptomatic. Some of the common symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, decreased immunity, and dizziness. The other symptoms include loss of hair, swelling of the eyelids, wrinkles on the face, and inflammation of the glands.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.