Malnutrition refers to a condition that results from eating deficient, excess or imbalance energy food. Malnutrition has been an alarming issue worldwide especially it effects on children’s health.
UNICEF reported that nearly half of all deaths in children under 5years are as a result of undernutrition because this has placed children to greater exposure to common infectious diseases, and delay recovery. Children living in rural environment are more vulnerable to malnutrition due to availability of low nutritional food which is caused by poverty.
Undernutrition in children causes reduction in immunological capacity to defend against diseases and recurrent infections, it also causes dismal growth which affects child’s mental and physical development and learning capacity.
Malnutrition is generally known to be caused by poverty and unequal distribution of resources within the household.
Effects of malnutrition in children
Wasting: This is a physical state of a child being thinner than normal, too thin for height. It is an indication of current or recurrent situation which lead to weight loss, impairment of bodily functions especially resistance to diseases.
Stunting: A state of being shorter than normal, it is an indication of long term cummulative effects of nutritional deficiency.
Other effects are diarrhoea, impaired child’s development, poor learning capacity, etc.
Symptoms of Malnutrition
Loss of weight
Loss of appetite
Water electrolyte imbalance
Tiredness and irritability
Malnutrition diseases are:
Marasmus: severe weight loss, leaning skin and bones
Kwashiorkor: Bloated appearance due to water accumulation (oedema)
Marasmus kwashiorkor: A combination of both marasmus and kwashiorkor
Anaemia: Deficiency in healthy red blood cell in the blood
Causes of Malnutrition in children
Poverty/ poor access to food
Socioeconomic and political instability
Inadequate dietary intake
Poor information/education on nutritional value
Prevention of Malnutrition in children
Promotion and support of breastfeeding
Appropriate vaccination against diseases
Proper dietary intake
UNICEF reported that poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can lead to stunted growth which is associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced schoool and work performance.
In conclusion, malnutrition is a health challenge all over the world and has been a great concern in ensuring healthy life and wellbeing. Though, poverty is one of the causes of malnutrition, yet there are some other people suffering from this due to lack of proper education on nutritional values and combination of right proportion of nutrients in food. Therefore, a program needs to be organised to sensitize people both young and old in hospitals and all health centers on importance of taking balanced nutritious food just as WHO recommended 2,100Kcals of energy per person per day, 10-12% in form of protein and 17% in form of fat.