Malnutrition or nutritional deficiencies occurs when a person does not receive adequate amount of nutrients from diet. This causes damage to the vital organs and functions of the body. Lack of food is the most common causes of malnutrition in developing countries.
How To Treat Malnutrition and Causes of Malnutrition (kuposhan)
Signs and Symptoms of Malnutrition?
The symptoms of malnutrition can vary depending on which nutrients are lacking. In general, individuals will experience weight loss, dizziness and fatigue. Due to the lack of nutrients, individuals may experience reduced muscle mass and decreased mobility.
Wounds will take longer to heal and the immune system will function poorly. This can lead to increased infections and longer recovery times.
Individuals may find it difficult to stay warm due to the limited tissue mass. This inability to stay warm may lead to hypothermia (1).
Evidence based Causes of Malnutrition (kuposhan)
Malnutrition could arise from many factors like:
Lack of nutritious and Balanced Diet
Lack of nutritious and balanced diet is responsible to a great extent for malnutrition in children. In many countries, because of poverty, there is a lack of essential elements like Proteins, carbohydrates, fats etc. in everyday meal; hence, manifestation of malnutrition in children is natural (2).
Lack of access to food
Most major food and nutrition crises do not occur because of a lack of food, but rather because people are too poor to obtain enough food. Non-availability of food in markets, difficult access to markets due to lack of transportation, and insufficient financial resources are all factors contributing to the food insecurity of the most vulnerable populations.
A dirty environment at home or in the school is one of the basic causes of malnutrition. The home and school environment tend to become dirty when it lacks fresh and pure air, sunlight, playground, clean lanes. Those children who are made to work in glass factories, leather industries, brick industries, etc. have to face a dirty, unhygienic and unhealthy environment. This can lead to malnourishment in children.
The digestive process of children gets affected because of continuous hard work. Especially for the children of low income groups, the heavy labour uncoupled with balanced diet take a toll on their physical and mental development.
While poverty is not one of the direct causes of malnutrition, it severs food security and availability for those living below the poverty line. Furthermore, the foods poor people can afford are often void of any nutritional value and hence are just enough to keep their body working (3).
Indigestive and Harmful diet
Intake of indigestive and harmful diet is one of the main causes of malnutrition. Children belonging to the rich families do have expensive food items but in general these food items like junk foods which are indigestive and harmful. Intake of such type of food items often leads to lack of hunger and hence sometimes the children fall prey to malnutrition.
Ignorance of Pregnant Mothers
The root cause of malnutrition in children in India and many countries is impoverished pregnant mothers who are unable to provide suitable nutrition as they, themselves, are malnourished. This is primarily due to gender inequality. This causes their diets to be inadequate in both quantity and quality.
Certain illnesses and infections, such as tuberculosis, measles, and diarrhoea are directly linked to acute malnutrition. A combination of disease and malnutrition weakens the metabolism thus creating a cycle of infection and undernourishment, leading to vulnerability to illness and diseases and sometimes death. When severely malnourished, an individual may not be able to tolerate medications at all (4).
An increase on the amount of natural disasters caused by climate change makes it one of the leading causes of malnutrition. In fact, according to a study by the UN, the decline in agricultural production caused directly or indirectly by climate change which may drastically increase the number of people living in hunger in the future.
How To Treat Malnutrition
You need to identify the root cause as well as the gravity of malnutrition to treat the condition. If the root cause is a medical disorder, then that needs to be addressed and cured in the first place.
Once the underlying cause is cleared out, the next course of action would be to put the concerned person on an adequately planned nutritious diet to ease out the leftover signs of malnutrition.
In extreme cases, patients are put on tube feeding, so that they receive the right amount of nutrients. The person is then kept under strict monitoring to ensure that the recovery is on the track.
In cases of over-nutrition, the person is asked to cut down the supplements or food items that have triggered this condition.
In case of obesity, the treatment will be decided based on the total body weight and BMI, in general. While there are no exact ways to find out the right weight for your height, there are assorted ways that people usually rely on.