What Does the Evidence Say About Malnutrition in the Developing World?

Malnutrition is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. It has been estimated that around 3.1 million child deaths are caused by malnutrition each year. These deaths are predominantly in the developing world. Unfortunately, malnutrition is not just restricted to the developing world. It is a global issue, and one that the developed world is also experiencing. 

Why Is Malnutrition So Neglected?

One of the major contributing factors to the recent increase in malnutrition cases is the growing prevalence of obesity. It is well-established that obesity is associated with various chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. These diseases are a major cause of death worldwide. It has been estimated that around 450 million people suffer from obesity today. This number is expected to reach 700 million by the year 2025.

The increase in obesity cases is causing a parallel increase in cases of malnutrition. This is primarily due to the fact that people with obesity have reduced their food intake, which causes them to become deficient in several nutrients, especially energy and protein. Lack of energy makes it more difficult for the body to function normally, and hence contribute to the development of chronic diseases. Similarly, a deficiency in protein can cause serious health problems, especially for children.

This is why proper nutrition is such an essential part of health. It is often said that you are what you eat, and this could not be truer. A balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, can prevent many illnesses and contribute to a long lifespan. A diet that is high in calories and low in nutrients can lead to obesity and the development of chronic diseases. This is why nutrition should be a major area of concern for everyone, not just dieticians and doctors.

How Is Malnutrition Diagnosed?

To diagnose malnutrition, physicians will usually ask the patient’s mother or guardian to recount the child’s meal intake over the past few days or weeks. This information will then be compared to growth curves that are computed for the child’s age and sex. A decline in growth on this curve indicates the presence of malnutrition. 

However, this method is prone to human error. It is often difficult to accurately recall the child’s meal intake over the past few days or weeks. This is especially problematic since poor caregivers, often those of first-time parents, may underestimate the amounts of food that were actually consumed by their children. 

Another possibility is that the child has a growth deficiency due to genetic disorders or metabolic problems. In these cases, the physician will have to perform a physical exam to determine the root of the issue. This is especially important since there are several genetic disorders that are known to cause failure to thrive. Some of these conditions are Down syndrome, Turner syndrome, and Prader-Willi syndrome. These conditions are characterized by poor appetite, mental retardation, and a characteristic facies (face). 

It is also important to determine whether the child is actually absorbing the nutrients from the food. Children with celiac disease, for example, cannot absorb nutrients such as iron and zinc from food. Fortunately, there are blood tests that can be performed to determine whether a child has celiac disease or not. This is especially important since the only treatment for this condition is a strict gluten-free diet. If the child does not have celiac disease, but still has poor growth and absorption problems, then this may point to an issue with the child’s digestive system that needs to be investigated further. 

Is There Any Evidence That Points To A Solution?

Yes, there is. Several experts have suggested that while a gluten-free diet may help prevent malnutrition, it may not be the best way to achieve normal growth. Instead, they advocate a low-fat, high-fiber diet for infants and children. According to studies, high-fiber diets promote normal growth in children, and reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases in later years. They also increase the total number of bacteria in the intestines and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Clostridium difficile. The low-fat, high-fiber diet provides the necessary nutrients to the body, but limits the intake of foods that contain fats and sugars.

This type of diet may help prevent certain kinds of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. It also improves the body’s resistance to infections, since it increases the amount of intestinal flora. In one study, children who followed this type of diet had lower levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. This is significant, since excessive inflammation in infants and children is often the result of an infection. In these cases, the use of antibiotics is inevitable, and the accompanying inflammation may affect organ function, causing problems such as diarrhea and malnutrition. 

However, this type of diet may not be suitable for everyone. If a parent suspects that their child is not absorbing the nutrients properly, or if they have a history of gastrointestinal disorders, then this diet may not be suitable for them. Additionally, some medical experts believe that a vegan diet, although not tested, may be harmful to children with special needs, such as cystic fibrosis and cerebral palsy. 

Solutions For the Developing World

Based on the above, it is clear that malnutrition is a major global health issue. It is estimated that 3.1 million child deaths are caused by malnutrition each year, and this number is likely to rise due to the effects of climate change. This is why it is essential to develop solutions for the developing world. These solutions should be affordable, and must take into consideration the specific dietary requirements of infants and children.

Affordable Solutions

Since the majority of malnutrition cases are caused by poverty, it is essential that any solution to this problem is affordable. This means that healthcare providers will have to take into consideration the fact that most of the patients have limited resources, and cannot afford certain items, such as a juicer or organic produce. 

One of the major causes of malnutrition is poverty. It is well-established that malnutrition is a major contributing factor to the recent increase in child deaths. This is primarily due to the fact that poor families, often those of first-time parents, may underestimate the amounts of food that were actually consumed by their children. These children are often unable to grow properly because they do not have access to sufficient food with the necessary nutrients. Luckily, there are several solutions to this problem. 

A Juicer

One of the simplest and most effective solutions is a good quality juicer. A juicer is an automated piece of equipment that extracts the fruit’s juice from raw fruit. 

It has several benefits, not just for the health of the patient. A juicer allows dieticians and physicians to have the ability to mix different fruits and vegetables into different juices, and to prescribe these to their patients. Juicing also allows the body to absorb the nutrients more quickly and effectively. In some cases, especially when the patient has not eaten for a while, the juice may act as a liquid diet, giving the body the necessary nutrients without the need to consume solid food. 

Juicers are not expensive, especially in comparison to other medical equipment. They are also portable, so they can be taken anywhere and easily used. This makes them convenient to use in areas where medical help is not readily available. 

Organic Produce

Another effective solution to prevent malnutrition is organic produce. Since most nutritionists agree that organic produce is more nutritious and has a better flavor, it is no wonder that people are trying to get more vegetables and fruits into their diets. With organic produce, there is no need to be concerned about pesticide residues, since the food is not treated with chemicals. It is also more environmentally friendly, since it uses less water than conventional foods. This is why many experts believe that organic produce is the future of food.

Gluten-Free Diet

While a gluten-free diet may help prevent malnutrition, it is not the best solution. The reason for this is that the only way for a child to grow properly is if they are getting the nutrients from food. Unfortunately, since most people with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, they are unable to eat the necessary nutrients, leading to poor growth and the development of other health problems. In these cases, the use of a gluten-free diet may mask the issue, but it will not fix it. It would be best for these patients to have a dietician help them formulate a suitable meal plan. In addition to dieticians, physicians may also prescribe vitamin-enriched food, such as organic milk and wheat-free bread. If possible, it is advisable to avoid foods with added sugar and fats, which may cause problems for those with diabetes.