Cycle of Malnutrition

Malnutrition refers to the lack of proper nutrition. This HealthHearty write-up provides information on the vicious cycle of malnutrition, which is a challenge in many countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia etc.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Poverty and starvation may go hand in hand, which is why lack of proper nutrition could occur due to poverty. A person is said to be malnourished when the body's needs for nutrients are not satisfied due to inadequate intake of food. At times, malnutrition could be due to poor dietary habits. For instance, one's diet might not be balanced. The body's needs for certain nutrients might not be fulfilled due to a poor diet, which in turn would lead to nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes, malnutrition is so severe that it can lead to complications. Also, one could be malnourished, if one's body is unable to absorb certain nutrients due to certain medical conditions.
Due to poor nutrition, the vital body processes that are essential for the healthy functioning of the body get disrupted. Poverty is often a contributing factor for starvation and malnourishment. Children are often badly affected. Stunted growth, abnormalities, and susceptibility to infections are often observed in such children.
Symptoms depend upon the underlying cause. It's important to identify the symptoms of malnutrition, as treating these symptoms is the best way to break the cycle. The symptoms include:
  • Weariness
  • Weight loss
  • Giddiness
  • Inflamed and flaky joints
  • Distended stomach
  • Vision impairment
  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weak muscles
It could lead to diseases such as:
  • Hypokalemia
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Anemia
  • Marasmus
  • Goiter
Deficiency of vitamin A could result in:
  • Night blindness
  • Permanent blindness
  • Vulnerability to infections
  • Anhydrous skin
  • Food aversion
Vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency could cause symptoms such as:
  • Beriberi
  • Weariness
  • Lethargy
Signs of vitamin B2 deficiency include:
  • Glossitis
  • Cheilosis
  • Redness of the mouth
  • Sore throat
Vitamin B3 triggers pellagra, which causes the following symptoms:
  • Insomnia
  • Dementia
  • Photosensitivity
The deficiency of vitamin B12 gives rise to symptoms such as:
  • Memory loss
  • White spots on skin
  • Headache
The symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include:
  • Bleeding gums
  • Increased vulnerability to infections
The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
  • Osteomalacia
  • Weak bones
Malnutrition can lead to a condition called marasmus, which might cause the following symptoms:
  • Edema
  • Anhydrous and ruptured skin
  • Irritability
The deficiency of iodine can cause goiter, which might give rise to the following symptoms:
  • Increased tolerance to cold
  • Inflamed or enlarged thyroid gland
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing
Blood tests and nutritional evaluation would be conducted in case of individuals that appear to be affected by malnutrition. The treatment involves following a healthy, balanced diet.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.