Is malnutrition dangerous and what is it? Learn the facts now!
More than 50% of child death rate is connected with one serious problem. Since plague epidemics no infection could have such terrible effect. But we are not talking about infectious diseases. Millions of people suffered from this problem and became physically disabled or challenged, acquired chronic diseases and became mentally retarded. This condition threatens women’s heath, meaning health of families and society in general.
So what is the problem we are talking about here? It is malnutrition, a protein-calorie deficiency, which was called “a hidden disaster” by WHO. What is the scale of this tragedy? WHO’s data informs that of 10,4 million children dying every year, 50% die of malnutrition.
Nutrition disorders cause a wide range of diseases: from dystrophies, caused by lack of one or several nutrients – vitamins, mineral salts etc, to obesity and other chronic diseases, connected with wrong nutrition habits or lack of food.
Millions of children are suffering from this problem worldwide, and it is not their fault. Georgina Tussent, a child dietitian, says in one of her interviews: “Malnutrition victims are the least guilty and the most vulnerable.”
Some say that this problem is inevitable – there’s just not enough food for everyone. But WHO claims otherwise, saying that we live in the age of food abundance. There is more than enough food to feed everyone on this planet. Also it is easier and cheaper to avoid malnutrition-caused diseases, than to cure them. So does the situation we have now make any sense?
Who suffers from malnutrition?
Not only children suffer from lack of food. WHO report in 2001 says that more than 800 people have this problem in developing countries. So, at that moment, every 8th person had bad nutrition.
Even though biggest numbers of starving people live in countries of Asia, Africa has the worst rate of starvation in percentage. Then there are Latin American countries and countries of the Caribbean.
Can we say that developed countries do not have that problem? No. WHO reports say that countries with “transitioning economy” (especially countries of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union) 27 million people suffer from malnutrition, and 11 million people – in industrially developed countries.
Reasons and consequences
“I was hungry and you created a hunger research committee. I was homeless and you made a big report about my dramatic situation. I was sick and you held a seminar about poor people’s diseases. You examined my situation from every point of view, but I am still hungry, sick and have no home.” (Author unknown).
Different world organizations tried to solve hunger and malnutrition problems many times, but their activities did not reach any desired result. For example, in 1996 World Nutrition Summit, held by UNO division for Food and Farming, had a goal: by 2015 to reduce the number of people who suffer from malnutrition, by 50% - to around 400 million people.
There actually was some progress. But unfortunately, in 2001 reports show that “malnutrition victims number reduction slows down”. The same report states that in developing countries these numbers unfortunately increased.
What causes malnutrition?
Malnutrition is a lack of nutrient elements received by human cells. Usually it is caused by two factors:
- Insufficient amount of proteins, calories, vitamins and minerals
- Frequent infections
Such diseases as measles, diarrhea, malaria and respiratory dysfunctions create additional stress for human body and lead to the lack of nutrients. Sick person looses appetite and rejects food, which results in malnutrition. Being exhausted, fatigue and lacking food, person is exposed to diseases. This becomes a vicious cycle, increasing death rate, as a result of protein-calorie deficiency.
Serious negative effects
Malnutrition causes dramatic damage to a body (especially of a child), leading to malfunction of all body’s organs and systems. Heart, kidneys, stomach, bowels, lungs, brain – everything is in danger.
Malnutrition leads to child’s growth deceleration, which is assisted by retardation in mental growth and lack of intellectual and cognitive abilities. These are considered to be the most serious and prolonged in future malnutrition consequences.
Preventive measures and treatment
Severe states require hospitalization. Doctors must evaluate patient’s state and start from treating dehydration and infections. If these two factors are successfully taken care of, further tests follow, researching the damage that malnutrition caused to the body. Gradually patient gets more food, initially via a tube. This first stage lasts for around one week.
Further actions are parts of rehabilitation. Patient receives quality food, gets physical and emotional support.
There are of course some inconvertible effects that human body can suffer due to malnutrition. That is why it is very important to do everything possible to prevent malnutrition and its destructive influence.
Nutrition should consist of various products, including proteins like meat; vegetable foods like greens, fruit, vegetables. Also all kinds of carbohydrates like cereals, potatoes, bread. Oils are also important.
Human diet must be diverse. It is important to study the basics of nutrition and follow all the simple rules to avoid lack of any nutrient, vitamin, mineral.