Malnutrition has been defined as “a pathological state resulting from a relative or absolute defi- ciency or excess of one or more essential nutrients”. It comprises four forms: Under nutrition, Over nutrition, Imbalance and Specific deficiency.
Under nutrition is the condition which results when insufficient food is eaten over extended period of time. In extreme cases it is called starvation. Over nutrition is the pathological state resulting from the consumption of excessive quantity of food over an extended period of time, Imbalance is the pathological state resulting from a disproportion among essential nutrients with or without the absolute deficiency of any nutrient.
Specific deficiency is the pathological state resulting from a relative or absolute lack of an individual nutrient.
The effects of malnutrition are different in poor and rich communities. India is an example of a poor country where malnutrition is endemic. Diet survey carried out in India has shown that the average Indian diet is ill balanced with an excess of carbohydrate and very little protective foods like milk, meat, fish, eggs, fruit and leafy vegetables. While under nutrition is the pressing problem in India, the major nutritional problems in many western countries today centre round over nutrition.
Factors Related to Malnutrition:
Malnutrition makes the individual more susceptible to infection and infection in turn is one of the principal contributory factors of malnutrition. Infection such as diarrheas dysenteries, intestinal parasites and worms are caused due to malnutrition. But malnutrition is not always due to shortage of foods.
a) Nutrition is perhaps the most important factor, which affects the health of a person. The body needs a balanced amount of nutrients and energy for its survival and is essential for good health. A balanced diet is needed and it takes into account six different food components which are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibres and water. The needs may depend on your gender, your age, your life type, you health conditions and so on. Intakes of energy and nutrients below or in excess of needs for a prolonged period of time can adversely affect health. Malnutrition is a term which covers problems of both under nutrition and over nutrition.
b) Malnutrition and Social conditions
Malnutrition does not only arise because of insufficient or too much nutrient intake. The problem may also occur because of the society where for example there is a population growth which may lead to insufficient food supply for part of the population. During war time, a similar situation is possible. But these are not the only ways malnutrition can occur in social conditions; teenage girls often have a problem with their body and go on diets and become either anorexic or bulimic
or even both. This is a serious case nowadays since the young part of the population is deeply involved with it and serious troubles are caused. It may lead to psychological problems.
c) Malnutrition and Economical conditions
Malnutrition is also a cause of a poor economy where people do not have the money to
buy food and because of that end up having an unbalanced diet.
"The real problem is money. Food is available, but people can't afford it. We need real
development and income-generating projects. Poor people live on the basic commodities such as bread, tea, sugar and rice.
Status of Malnutrition in India
● The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 194.4 million people in India (about 14.
● 5% of the total population) are undernourished.
● India ranks 102 out of 117 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2019.