Understanding malnutrition

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies or excesses in nutrient intake, imbalance of essential nutrients or impaired nutrient utilization. The double burden of malnutrition consists of both under-nutrition and overweight and obesity, as well as diet-related non-communicable diseases.

Under-nutrition manifests in four broad forms: wasting, stunting, underweight, and micronutrient deficiencies.

  • Wasting is defined as low weight-for-height. It often indicates recent and severe weight loss, although it can also persist for a long time. It usually occurs when a person has not had food of adequate quality and quantity and/or they have had frequent or prolonged illnesses. Wasting in children is associated with a higher risk of death if not treated properly.
  • Stunting is defined as low height-for-age. It is the result of chronic or recurrent under-nutrition, usually associated with poverty, poor maternal health and nutrition, frequent illness and/or inappropriate feeding and care in early life. Stunting prevents children from reaching their physical and cognitive potential.
  • Underweight is defined as low weight-for-age. A child who is underweight may be stunted, wasted or both.
  • Micronutrient deficiencies are a lack of vitamins and minerals that are essential for body functions such as producing enzymes, hormones and other substances needed for growth and development.

Bimbo Mustapha, B.sc /MSc (HUMAN NUTRITION AND DIETETICS) is a Nutrition Expert. She is the lead Contributor @ Lagos-based Bimsol Nutrition Blog and offers counselling sessions to clients on nutrition and healthy lifestyles issues.

Email: bimbomustapha12@gmail.com

Tel: +234 7063847952


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