The gravest single threat to the world’s public health is nothing but malnutrition, as cited by the World Health Organization (WHO). Malnutrition can be defined as “the insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients”. The condition leads to the onset of several malnutrition diseases, though the disorder may depend upon the nutrients that are under or overabundant in the diet. What's more, the worst affected regions are the developing countries suffering from famine and starvation. Surprisingly, about one in every three people is suffering from malnutrition and half the child deaths in developing regions are a result of malnutrition. Apart from the various immediate causes that the nation undergoes, malnutrition jeopardizes the economy and development of a nation by continuing the cycle of poverty. Given here are the various diseases caused by malnutrition. Take a sneak peek and know for yourself!
Diseases Caused By Malnutrition
One of the most acute malnutrition diseases in the world, Kwashiorker is caused by the lack of protein and other essential nutrients in the body. However, the diet consumed by a Kwashiorker patient contains sufficient calories that are mainly derived from carbohydrates. Areas with famine and low level of education are the hit targets of Kwashiorker, due to inadequate knowledge of proper diet. The presence of edema, usually in the feet, is a common symptom of Kwashiorker. Other symptoms include distended abdomen, an enlarged liver, thinning hair which is normally coarse in texture, loss of teeth, skin de-pigmentation and dermatitis.
The most common malnutrition disease in children, Marasmus is caused due to severe deficiency of proteins and calories. Characterized by energy deficiency, the weight of the child suffering from Marasmus can reduce up to 80% of the normal weight. Infants below the age of one are more likely to get infected with Marasmus. Muscle wasting, edema, dry and scaly skin, loose skin, depletion of adipose tissue reserves, irritation and voracious hunger are some common symptoms of Marasmus. African countries and certain third world countries are the worst affected with Marasmus.
Another common malnutrition disease, anemia is fast spreading throughout the world. Although there are several reasons for the onset of anemia, but deficiency of iron and vitamin B12 are the most common causes. Further, a diet low in iron consumed for prolonged periods can lead to a type of anemia, called iron deficiency anemia, which is common in developing countries, especially pregnant women of these regions. If unattended, these can further lead to problems, like shortness of breath, tiredness and fatigue, pallor and other symptoms that indicate a low hemoglobin count.
The deficiency of iodine in one’s diet results in a malnutrition disease known as goiter. Areas, where the soil is iodine deficient, or countries, where food supplements are not iodized, are more likely to get affected by goiter. While the major symptom of goiter is the swelling of the thyroid gland seen as a large swollen part in the neck of the affected, other symptoms can be lethargy, weakness, low metabolic rate, increased susceptibility to cold, ptosis and so on. In severe cases, the neck swelling can be large enough to compress the windpipe or larynx, causing breathing and speaking difficulties.
Caused due to insufficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1, beriberi is a malnutrition disease that largely affects the Asian population, since they remove the rice bran and consume white rice, not realizing that they are removing the potential source of thiamine by doing so. Muscles, circulatory system, nerves and digestive system are the major affected parts of the body.
Other Malnutrition Diseases include:
Rickets (lack of vitamin D)
Scurvy (insufficiency of vitamin C)
Pellagra (lack of niacin and protein)
Hyponatremia (deficiency of sodium in blood and diet)
Hypokalemia (insufficiency of potassium)
Night Blindness (deficiency of vitamin A)