Health Care

Malnutrition : Types, Causes, Management & Treatment


Malnutrition is the deprivation or excessive supply of food. People awfully confuse malnutrition as undernutrition only, but this is incorrect because malnutrition includes both undernutrition and overnutrition. Undernutrition can lead to stunted growth whereas over nutrition can cause diseases such as obesity, diabetes, etc. Few noncommunicable diseases which are related to improper unhealthy diet are also the consequences of malnutrition. This imbalance poses many threats to human health and life. Looking at the current situation of inflation in the world, it has become the most common and major issue in present.


Malnutrition includes,

  • Undernutrition

Undernutrition means inadequate supply of nutritious compounds to the body that result in muscular wasting, growth stunting, underweight and deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. Micronutrient malnutrition is the most common type of malnutrition. Deficiencies such as Vitamin A, iodine and iron deficiencies are oftenly seen in general population. The undernutrition of iron lead to blood deficiency anemia. Vitamin a deficiency led to childhood diseases such as childhood blindness and is one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality in children and pregnant women. Iron deficiency can lead to thyroid hormonal imbalance and associated thyroid pathologies.

  • Overweight

Overweight, obesity and diet related NCDs (non-communicable diseases). Overweight malnutrition is an imbalance between large intake of food and low energy utilization during physical activity. In Overweight malnutrition there are most probably the chances of deficiency of microelement that help in metabolism which result in abnormal fat accumulation. Overweight like any other type of malnutrition have countless adverse effects. Excess intake of food vs low levels of physical activity can cause CVS problems such as hypercholesterolemia that in turn lead to atherosclerosis.



The causes of malnutrition include,

  • less food intake

In poor underdeveloped countries, malnutrition is the common health issue. People often die of thirst and hunger in such low-income countries.
mental health problems
mental health problems such as ADHD (attention deficiency), depression, anxiety, etc all lead to numerous malnutrition disorder.

  • social and mobility problems

according to biopsychosocial model, social life of a person plays a very important role in maintaining the health. If a person’s social life is disturbed or do not have social circle, he has greater chances of becoming malnutrition.

  • digestive and absorption problems

stomach is the organ where digestion takes place and nutrition Is extracted (absorbed) out of food and distributed to the body according to demand. if there is any pathology that can potentially cause any abnormality in either of the function of stomach, it can lead to malnutrition.

  • alcohol abuse

excess intake of alcohol in a person can lead to organs dysfunction that can in turn lead to malabsorption in body leading to malnutrition.

  • sleep disturbances

insomnia or excessive sleeping can lead to disturbance in sleep wake cycle that can affect normal functioning of body and can cause malnutrition.

  • low levels of physical activity

low level of physical activity can cause accumulation of fats in adipose tissue resulting in obesity, due to which there will be lack of many essential micronutrients for metabolism.


followings are the signs of malnutrition in person that can help diagnose it easily,
Loss of appetite,
weight loss,
low BMI,
poor concentration,
loss of interest in food and drink,
feeling tired all the time,
low energy levels,
long recovering time,
prolonged healing time,
feeling cold all the time.

Effects and associated illnesses

The major effects of malnutrition includes,

  • hypothermia

low body temperature usually shows low bp which is due to low body energy levels due to inadequate amount (less) of food in diet.

  • wasting,

when the required nutrients are not supplied in adequate amount, it’ll lead to wasting (low muscle mass). Resulting in weaken appearance of overall body.

  • stunted growth,

the process of growth is the most nutrients requiring process of the body. The children in areas of poverty are often seen short stature, thin, dull yellow skin tone, less muscular strength, etc.

  • fatigue and irritability

calcium is the main element required for the contraction of muscles. When there is deficiency of essential nutrients, there will fatigue, tiredness, weakness, low energy levels and irritation.

  • micronutrient deficiencies,

  • obesity,

Treatment/ management

The major changes to treat malnutrition are,

  • Dietary changes

Taking appropriate healthy food diet that include all the essential component of diet in a triangle. Some religious people avoid important components such as meat and etc, are more likely to suffer with all the consequences of malnutrition,

  • Check vitals and manage vital signs,

Check for hypothermia, physical activity capacity, bp fluctuation, etc as any up and down in any of these signs can point to malnutrition in person. Managing these signs means managing malnutrition condition in people.

  • Food supplements

If a person is strongly forbidden to take some essential components of food, he will have to take some food supplement to overcome his deficiency of proper diet. There are different food supplements are present in market for different malnutrition condition. If a person is colour blind, he should take multi vitamin, if a person suffers with iodine deficiency, he should the multi mineral drugs and if a person is suffering with blood deficiency anemia, he is prescribed iodine drips.


Epidemiological studies claim that the number have been improved since 2014. The prevalence of malnutrition was about 795 million people globally. At present, 149 million children under 5yrs all around the globe are undernourished out of which 45% of children die of hunger before the age of 5 yrs. Certain surveys are still ongoing to study the fluctuations in the number of malnourished population and consequences of malnutrition that a person can face. Numerous NGOs and people welfare society are running privately and by government to provide low-income people food and other necessities of life.


Multiple factors contribute to the malnutrition condition. Out of which lesser food intake remains at the top of the list. Others include, increased energy demand and decreased food intake, genetic predisposition, nutritional and immunological status, etc. NGOs and welfare programs should be improved to help as many people as possible all around the world. Children nutritional factors should be closely observed as they are the future of a country.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button