The human body needs certain nutrients to survive. Various vitamins and minerals are vital to the function of every system throughout the body. In addition, calories are necessary for physical energy. The body converts sugar into energy the cells can use, allowing muscles to stay healthy and strong. Malnutrition occurs when individuals don't have enough food or don't have enough nutrients in their food. In rarer cases, malnutrition can also occur when individuals have too much of certain nutrients or substances. A poorly balanced diet can lead to malnutrition. Some patients might have malnutrition related to an underlying condition that causes poor nutrient absorption. The World Health Organization says malnutrition is the single greatest threat to public health on a global scale.
With this in mind, learn about the different types of malnutrition now.
Undernutrition is a type of malnutrition that occurs when an individual doesn't have enough intake of nutrients and energy to maintain their health. This is the most commonly discussed type of malnutrition. In fact, many studies and pieces of literature use undernutrition and malnutrition as interchangeable synonyms. However, malnutrition can also take other forms, and it can refer to both overnutrition and undernutrition. In the past, researchers used the term 'protein-energy malnutrition' to refer to undernutrition. However, that term only refers to receiving inadequate energy due to not consuming enough calories or protein and it doesn't encompass the effects that can occur because an individual isn't absorbing enough nutrients for bodily function. Undernutrition is used to combat this because it covers both nutrient malnutrition and protein malnutrition. There are several nutrients many individuals throughout the world lack. For example, it's possible an individual's diet might not contain enough zinc, since zinc is a mineral found most commonly in foods not everyone eats regularly. In certain parts of the world, vitamin A deficiencies are also common.
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