Causes of malnutrition - Poverty - Hunger

Malnutrition - Causes - Poverty - Hunger

Poverty and hunger causes malnutrition

Proper balanced nutrition is required for the function of life process.
Poverty and the resultant hunger causes malnutrition in populations, as food become beyond their reach due to high prices. Even in United States, a Symbol of Affluence, after the economic meltdown there are many households with low-income who do not always have sufficient healthy food to eat and suffer poverty and hunger.
Most of the hunger and lack of food occurs not due to lack of availability of food, but due to poverty making people ill-afford it.
As protein rich food is usually priced high, it causes people in poverty, to knowingly opt for malnutrition by going in for cheaper calorie rich food to satisfy their hunger.
Poverty and hunger have devastating effect on children.
Worldwide, poverty, hunger and malnutrition are the causes for more than 50% of the childhood deaths.
Malnutrition for a prolonged period of time affects physical and mental development of poverty and hunger affected children for the rest of their lives.
This causes reduction in capabilities and starts a poverty and hunger cycle as they become less suitable in the competitive job market; their children again become victims of poverty and hunger.

Lack of balance in food habits causes malnutrition

Poverty or no poverty, malnutrition can also be due to unbalanced consumption of nutrients.
The deficiency of proteins and/or micro nutrients creeps into the health of many people due to malnutrition.
Initially this goes unnoticed and manifests and causes devastating effects after a long period of time.
Deficiency of vitamins and minerals due to their undernourishment or malnutrition causes people to get affected by deficiency diseases like anemia, loss of vision, rickets and osteomalacia, scurvy and beriberi without suffering either poverty or pangs of hunger.
This malnutrition arises due to their food habits and lack of knowledge about nutritional requirements.

Excess and over consumption of food causes malnutrition

Malnutrition arises not only due to poverty and hunger but also due to excess consumption of nutrients.
The excess consumption of calories is usually accompanied by protein and micro nutrient deficiency and causes malnutrition.
Occupying the upper and middle class of the society in many developing countries (which are afflicted by poverty), these segments of population following the human inclination for sweet and fatty food, load themselves with red meat products and nutritionally empty and calorie rich fast foods; Ironically they also suffer malnutrition of micro nutrients and are afflicted with obesity and related health problems though are free from poverty.
This coupled with reduced physical activity causes a large section of them to suffer from heart diseases.

Health disorder causes malnutrition

The risk of malnutrition increases in chronic illness. Especially diseases of gastrointestinal tract, liver and kidney have an immediate impact on the nutritional status of the affected person.
Diseases of chronic nature like, coeliac disease, cancer and AIDS interfere with the absorption and utilization of certain nutrients leading to a state of chronic deficiency and malnutrition.
Some of the predisposing factors which lead to of malnutrition are, lactose intolerance, burns, fractures, trauma, pancreatitis, chronic nausea and vomiting, impaired intake, dysphagia, anorexia, cystic fibrosis and malabsorption.

Addiction to drugs or alcohol causes malnutrition

People who have developed dependency to alcohol or drugs may neglect their diet requirements due to reduced sense of hunger.
These habits affect their work and financial status pushing them into poverty and hunger.
Further dependency for a long period can affect their body organs like liver leading to inefficient absorption and utilization of nutrients leading to malnutrition.

Wars and conflicts are causes of malnutrition

Wars, conflicts and civil-wars ruin nations of their productivity and drag the inhabitants into poverty and hunger.
Conflict causes the supply mechanism gets derailed and the surplus food production regions of the nation get stagnation of the produce and suffering its loss due to lack of storage facilities slip into financial problems and hunger.
The deficit regions suffer non-availability of food.
Another aspect of the war is that it makes people to flee from their homes in the war zone; as refugees they become totally helpless and fully dependent on doles from relief agencies to stave off hunger.

Natural disaster causes malnutrition

When natural disasters like, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and tsunamis strike, many a breadwinner is lost in the calamity, pushing the survivors of his family into poverty and hunger.
The survivors lose their land, property and wherewithal of their livelihood and get thrown into a life of poverty and hunger.

Poor sanitation and unsafe water causes malnutrition

Poor sanitation and hygiene leads to communicable diseases like hepatitis and gastroenteritis to prevail in groups of population.
These affliction can affect the liver and gastrointestinal tract due to which absorption and utilization of nutrients is affected and leads to malnutrition.
Unsafe water carries  many waterborne diseases in the children in poverty ridden countries.

Gender bias and neglect of child nutrition causes malnutrition

In the third world countries, especially in South Asia, there is lack of care of women and children.
Pregnant women are not properly cared for their increased nutritional needs and causes malnutrition in them; this may happen both in poverty and hunger or in affluence. This in turn makes children born to them suffer malnutrition.
The newborn gets milk poor in quality from a week mother and the infant's growth is affected.
The switch towards formula feed and cow milk starves the infant of vital antibodies from the mother, making the infant susceptible to infections and diseases.

Old age related causes of malnutrition

Every fourth elderly American is affected by malnutrition.
Elderly people in all developed and underdeveloped countries suffer from protein and micronutrient malnutrition, for which the causes are many.
Energy needs of the elderly decreases without change in the requirements of other nutrients.
The food balance has to change with slight reduction in carbohydrates without change in the balance of other nutrients.
The shift from the traditional natural food sources of their younger days to modern processed food of present days decreases their nutritional balance and causes malnutrition.
The nutritional status of elderly people is negatively impacted by the mental and physiological changes due to aging and hunger.
With decreased sense of smell and taste, food appears bland to them and causes reduction in their appetite and hunger.
Problem of dental and oral health, difficulty in chewing food and difficulty in digestion leads to reduced intake of food and malnutrition.
The progressive loss of hearing and vision in elderly makes them less mobile and reduces their physical activity.
Their immunity decreases with malnutrition, causes them to suffer many old age diseases.
This depletes their finances and makes them to suffer from poverty and hunger.
Another aspect of malnutrition is food distribution.
It is estimated by FAO (food and agriculture Organization) that 80% of the children suffering lack of food and hunger are from developing countries which have food surplus. It is due to poverty or supplies not reaching them.
The shift towards primary and commodity market for safer investments causes the food prices to sky-rocket sinking vulnerable populations into poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
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Poverty and hunger are causes of malnutrition.

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