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Malnutrition In All Forms

December 7, 2012

What is it?

The word malnutrition carries more meaning than simply a lack of food and being under nourished, as many people think. It also reflects when one does not consume the correct amount of healthy and balanced foods that the body requires to function at its fullest potential. All over the world, people struggle with different forms of malnutrition. The United States, Kenya and Nepal are three separate countries who deal uniquely with this issue.

United States of America

While people tend to think that the United States of America if not affected by malnutrition, it is because they do not know the correct definition. According to Sue Evans in her article “Poverty, obesity and malnutrition: myth vs. reality”, “a person can be well-fed calorically, yet suffer malnutrition because of what he eats, rather than how much he eats.” This is a problem the United States faces, also known as obesity. Evans continues on to explain how the right amount of caloric intake can often still result in a person being malnourished, especially in children,. She reveals, “a lack of knowledge about nutrition often leads to poor dietary choices.” According to the Food Research and Action Center website, “Two-thirds of U.S. Adults are overweight or obese.” The article continues on to explain, “About a quarter of 2-5 year olds and one-third of school-age children (including adolescents) are overweight or obese.” This problem in the United States is sometimes related to the income of a person. In an article written by Brandon Keim called “Homeless and Overweight: Obesity Is the New Malnutrition” the author writes, “A new survey finds that one in three homeless people in Boston are clinically obese, a number that casts in relief the strange reality of food in the 21st century United States. Not long ago, malnourishment was embodied by emaciation. Now it’s far more likely to be hidden in folds of fat.” The United States has begun to integrate many programs in schools that educate students on the importance of healthy eating so that the obesity and malnutrition rates begin to diminish. Michelle Obama, The First Lady, has created a plan to decrease childhood obesity. “Michelle Obama’s Anti-Obesity Plan” an article in the Chicago Tribune, describes the issue further, “Saying childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years, first lady Michelle Obama asked the nation’s mayors to help her battle an epidemic that could see today’s kids lead shorter lives than their parents.”


The following is a chart that depicts the countries with the highest obesity rates. The United States stands in first place. This graph shows clearly just how many are being affected by malnutrition.

I do not own the rights to this photo.



Nepal’s people are affected by two types of malnutrition known as stunting and wasting. According to Asian Development Bank Institute, “A child who is not as long or tall as expected may be stunted, meaning that a child did not grow to its full potential. Weight for height helps to identify children who are wasted, meaning that children do not weigh as much as they should for their height.” In Nepal, children are known to be subject to both conditions, meaning they do not have enough to eat and also have not been able to develop and grow to their fullest potential. A writer from The Journal of Pakistan Medical Students Blogs writes in a a post that, “Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2011, demonstrates that 41 percent of children under five in Nepal are stunted, 11 percent are wasted, and 29 percent were underweight.” The post also explains that this is most common in agricultural parts of the country. An article written by IRIN entitled “Nepal: Gender discrimination fuels malnutrition” readers learn exactly that. “Despite the physical demands of a woman’s daily life, boys and husbands eat first and are offered the most nutritious food, often leaving girls and women with leftovers.” Nepal is taking steps to decrease the statistics of malnutrition. The article continues to explain that, “The Nepal Red Cross, WFP and other NGOs are combating discrimination by mandating women’s participation in committees, trying to create opportunities for economic independence, and by improving education.” These steps eading away from gender discrimination will help the malnutrition in women. Another way that Nepal works towards decreasing malnutrition is documented in the aforementioned Journal of Pakistan Medical Students Blogs. The post writes that, “The Government of Nepal provides various nutritional services at different levels of health service. At the central level, the Ministry and Local Development (MOLD) coordinates child development programs with other relevant ministries and International Non Governmental Organizations.” Not only this, but according to The Himalayan Times: Programme to fight malnutrition, “the ministry will join hands with education, agriculture and local development ministries as well as water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.” The article continues to explain the plan by revealing, “There will also be increased coverage of the government’s micronutrient programme aimed at pregnant women, mothers and their infants, which will include more dosing with Vitamin A and iron to prevent anemia.”



Kenya is another country that, due to the weather conditions as well as other factors, is unable to provide enough food for the people to remain healthy. According to World Vision International and an article written by Lucy Murunga entitled, “Kenya: Malnutrition levels to increase further, report warns”, “Close to half a million children under the age of 5, as well as pregnant and lactating mothers are currently being affected by acute malnutrition throughout Kenya.” Acute malnutrition is another way of saying that there is not enough food to eat. Kenya is nearing the top of the most malnourished countries. For example, an article from Business Daily Africa, “Allowing Kenyans to suffer malnutrition is unacceptable” the author reveals, “Kenya stands at number 54 out of 79 nations on the global hunger index.” In Kenya, one of the main reasons for this problem is “unsustainable use of land, water and energy resources.” This fact is reiterated in, “Nutritional Crisis Now Acute: Malnutrition Spikes in Northern Kenya” when the factors are more thoroughly explained. It says, “Conditions have grown harsher after the failure of three consecutive rainy seasons-beginning in 2006-imposing dry seasons on communities, animals and crops.” Action Against Hunger, where this article is found, is taking strides to end malnourishment in Kenya. The article says, “We call on all national and international donors to expedite emergency funding in support of existing programs in the region. Hundreds of lives are at stake.” Many organizations are helping Kenya through this current struggle and aim to put an end to this issue. Helen Keller International is, “strengthening the impact of feeding programs in priority districts in Kenya and ensuring that children with severe malnutrition can be appropriately treated to recovery.” Overall, it is clear that all forms of malnutrition are a threat and those affected by these conditions should be helped.

This photo shows a child in Kenya who is affected by malnourishment. This photo demonstrates just how severe the issue is and how necessary it is that malnutrition is stopped.

This photo shows a child in Kenya who is affected by malnourishment. This photo demonstrates just how severe the issue is and how necessary it is that malnutrition is stopped.

I do not own rights to this photo.



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