Malnutrition: Social Pharmacy Theory Notes 1st year PDF Book
Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition covers 2 broad groups of conditions. One is ‘undernutrition’—which includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals). The other is overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer).
Many families cannot afford or access enough nutritious foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes, meat, and milk, while foods and drinks high in fat, sugar, and salt are cheaper and more readily available, leading to a rapid rise in the number of children and adults who are overweight and obese, in poor as well as rich countries. It is quite common to find undernutrition and overweight within the same community, household or even individual – it is possible to be both overweight and micronutrient deficient
Malnutrition affects people in every country. Around 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, while 462 million are underweight. An estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years are overweight or obese, while some 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted. Adding to this burden are the 528 million or 29% of women of reproductive age around the world affected by anaemia, for which approximately half would be amenable to iron supplementation.
Various forms of malnutrition
There are 4 broad sub-forms of undernutrition: wasting, stunting, underweight, and deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Undernutrition makes children in particular much more vulnerable to disease and death.
Low weight-for-height is known as wasting. It usually indicates recent and severe weight loss, because a person has not had enough food to eat and/or they have had an infectious disease, such as diarrhoea, which has caused them to lose weight. A young child who is moderately or severely wasted has an increased risk of death, but treatment is possible.
Low height-for-age is known as stunting. It is the result of chronic or recurrent undernutrition, usually associated with poor socioeconomic conditions, poor maternal health and nutrition, frequent illness, and/or inappropriate infant and young child feeding and care in early life. Stunting holds children back from reaching their physical and cognitive potential.
Children with low weight-for-age are known as underweight. A child who is underweight may be stunted, wasted, or both.
Inadequacies in intake of vitamins and minerals often referred to as micronutrients, can also be grouped together. Micronutrients enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones, and other substances that are essential for proper growth and development.
Iodine, vitamin A, and iron are the most important in global public health terms; their deficiency represents a major threat to the health and development of populations worldwide, particularly children and pregnant women in low-income countries.
Overweight and obesity
Overweight and obesity is when a person is too heavy for his or her height. Abnormal or excessive fat accumulation can impair health.
Body mass index (BMI) is an index of weight-for-height commonly used to classify overweight and obesity. It is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his/her height in meters (kg/m²). In adults, overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 or more, whereas obesity is a BMI of 30 or more.
Overweight and obesity result from an imbalance between energy consumed (too much) and energy expended (too little). Globally, people are consuming foods and drinks that are more energy-dense (high in sugars and fats), and engaging in less physical activity.
Diet-related non-communicable diseases
Diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) include cardiovascular diseases (such as heart attacks and stroke, and often linked with high blood pressure), certain cancers, and diabetes. Unhealthy diets and poor nutrition are among the top risk factors for these diseases globally.
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