Disorders of nutrition

This article describes about disorders of nutrition like protein-energy malnutrition: kwashiorkor and marasmus, malabsorption and obesity.

The importance of nutrition is increasingly recognized as essential for health, and illness often alters nutritional requirements.

This may be due to:

Protein-energy malnutrition
Vitamin deficiencies
Both PEM and vitamin deficiencies.
Protein-energy malnutrition

This is the result of inadequate intake of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Infants and young children are especially susceptible as they need sufficient nutrients to grow and develop normally. If dietary intake is inadequate, it is not uncommon for vitamin deficiency to develop at the same time. Poor nutrition, or malnutrition, reduces the ability to combat other illness and infection.


This is mainly caused by protein deficiency, and occurs in infants and children in some developing countries and when there has been serious drought and crop failure. Reduced plasma proteins lead to ascites and oedema in the lower limbs that masks emciation. There is severe liver damage. Growth stops and there is loss of weight and loss of pigmentation of skin and hair accompanies by listleness, apathy and irritability.


This is caused by deficiency of both protein and carbohydrate. It is characterized by severe emaciation due to breakdown of muscle and fat. Growth is retarded, the skin becomes wrinkled and hair is lost.

The causes of malabsorption vary widely, from short term problems such as gastrointestinal infections to chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis. Malabsorption may be specific for one nutrient, e.g. vitamin B12 in pernicious anemia, or it may apply across a spectrum of nutrients, e.g. in tropical sprue.

This is a very common nutritional disorder in which there is accumulation of excess body fat. Clinically, obesity is present when body weight is 120% of that recommended for the height, age and sex of the individual. It occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure e.g. in inactive individuals eating more calories than they need for daily energy requirements.

Obesity often leads to:

Cardiovascular diseases, e.g. ischaemic heart diseases, hypertension
Varicose veins
Type II diabetes milletus
Increased incidence of postoperative complications.

Other things to keep in mind:

Avoid excessive alocohol

Fried food

Stop Smoking

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