Definition of Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that occurs when your body does not get enough nutrients or lack of proper nutrition, caused by not having enough to eat, not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food that one does eat.
Malnutrition in Nigeria
Though Nigeria has the second largest economy in Africa, it also has the third highest number of severely malnourished children in the world: approximately 26% of children under five years old—more than a million children— suffer from malnutrition.
Another cause of malnutrition in Nigeria is food insecurity. In northern Nigeria, widespread poverty, volatile food prices, and recurring food shortages have left an estimated 800,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition.
Causes, Incidence, And Risk Factors
There are a number of causes of malnutrition. It may result from:
• Inadequate or unbalanced diet
• Problems with digestion or absorption
• Certain medical conditions
Malnutrition can occur if you do not eat enough food. Starvation is a form of malnutrition.
You may develop malnutrition if you lack a single vitamin in the diet.
In some cases, malnutrition is very mild and causes no symptoms. However, sometimes it can be so severe that the damage done to the body is permanent, even though you survive.
Malnutrition continues to be a significant problem all over the world, especially among children. Poverty, natural disasters, political problems, and war all contribute to the conditions of malnutrition and starvation, and not just in developing countries.
Prevention of Malnutrition
There are primary prevention, secondary prevention and tertiary prevention for malnutrition.
1. Health Promotion
Ø Mothers should be given health education about good nutrition.
Ø Distribution of supplements (such as iron, folic acid and vitamin A).
Ø Promotion of breastfeeding
Ø Development of low cost weaning foods
Ø Measures to improve family diet
Ø Nutritional education
Ø Home economics
2. Specific Protection
Ø Specific protein diet, eggs, milk, fresh fruit
Ø Fortification of food
Secondary Prevention (early diagnosis and adequate treatment)
o Periodic nutrition surveillance .
o Early diagnosis of any lag of growth .
o Early diagnosis and treatment of infection including diarrhea.
o Developing the program for early dehydration of children with diarrhea.
o Developing supplementary feeding program during epidemics.
o Regular deworming of school and preschool children.
Tertiary prevention (nutritional rehabilitation)
o o Nutritional rehabilitation services.
o o Hospital treatment .
Source: HealthCentral, NHS Choices