The word "malnutrition" is made of two parts "mal" and "nutrition". The prefix "mal" means "bad". So, the etymological meaning of malnutrition is bad nutrition. Malnutrition refers to insufficient, excessive, or imbalanced consumption of nutrients. Malnutrition generally refers to undernutrition. But in developed countries over nutrition is increasingly causing various problems like obesity, heart diseases, etc. We need all the nutrients in our food in a balanced way. Some nutrients can be stored internally (e.g. the fat soluble vitamins) while others are required more or less continuously. Poor health can be caused by lack of required nutrients or, in extreme cases, too much of a required nutrient. For example, salt and water (both absolutely required) will cause illness or even death in excessive amounts. So the concept of the balanced diet is increasingly becoming a global concern. Annually millions of people become the victim of malnutrition. Due to its bad consequences, malnutrition can be defined as the bad condition of health caused by the lack or excess of nutrients required for good health.
In Nepal, undernutrition is a major health problem. Thousands of people especially children die every year due to malnutrition borne disease. Poverty and lack of consciousness are the root causes of malnutrition. People can’t afford for food rich in nutrients due to poverty. Besides, they are not conscious enough to explore and include the locally available food sources in their daily diet.
Causes of Malnutrition
1. Physical Effect:
Our body suffers physically from malnutrition. Poor growth, deformation of bones, poor development of muscles, ill-formed teeth, etc. are the results of malnutrition. Similarly, diseases like marasmus and kwashiorkor are the common diseases caused by malnutrition. Malnutrition effectively reduces the immune system of our body and makes us more vulnerable to diseases and infections.
2. Mental effects:
Malnutrition adversely affects one’s mental health. It makes the mind slow and dull. It leads to loss of memory which in turn affects the overall performance and progress of a person. Children affected by malnutrition are poor in the study, less creative and often tend to fail exams.
3. Social Effects:
Physical and mental effects of malnutrition ultimately lead to maladjustment in social life. Such persons can’t be creative and talent. Society has no value for such persons and they feel discarded, which may develop inferiority complex in them. The family life of such person is likely to suffer as well. A society with the majority of such people will hardly develop.
The above statement is true."Pregnant women and children are the major victims of malnutrition". They are the major victims because as malnutrition means composition of insufficient, excessive or imbalanced nutrition lack of proper breastfeeding, due to poor sanitation children became the victim of malnutrition. Similarly, lack of proper nutrition causes malnutrition in pregnant women.
It is important to have fruits and vegetables regularly so that we can maintain proper balanced diet and prevent from being the victim of malnutrition.
Any two causes of malnutrition are: