Malnutrition is defined as the lack of essential nutrients in the body necessary for growth and development of body tissues. This lack thereof can lead to side effects such as stunted growth, illnesses and early death.
Did you know that Malnutrition is a direct or underlying cause of 45 percent of all deaths of under-five children. An estimated 41 million children under the age of 5 years are overweight or obese, while some 159 million are stunted and 50 million are wasted. Adding to this burden are the estimated 528 million or 29% of women of reproductive age around the world affected by anaemia, for which approximately half would be amenable to iron supplementation.
Nigeria has the second highest number of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of about 32 percent of children under five. An estimated 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), but only two out of every 10 children affected is currently reached with treatment. Seven percent of women of childbearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition. Just 18 percent of children aged 6-23 months are fed the minimum acceptable diet.
The States in northern Nigeria are the most affected by the two forms of malnutrition – stunting and wasting. High rates of malnutrition pose significant public health and development challenges for the country. Stunting, in addition to an increased risk of death, is also linked to slow brain cells development, as a result, performance in education is low and adulthood productivity is at an all time low – all contributing to economic losses estimated to account for as much as 11 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The two types of malnutrition are
- Stunting: this is the type of chronic Malnutrition that leads to slow rate of growth in infants and accounts for heights not matching their age. This is the primary sign of Malnutrition, when a child’s body develops at a slower rate than it should.
- Wasting: this is marked by weight loss, recent weight loss or consistent weight loss, here the child is too thin for his height.
Causes of Malnutrition includes
unavailability of food rich in nutrients and suitable for infant growth. Malnutrition is not only about lack of food though, it is a combination of other causes including: insufficient diet at home, inaccess to clean water and sanitation infrastructure, lack of knowledge about safe hygiene practices, and lack of access to health services.
Malnutrition can be combated by
- Educating young mothers on what to provide their infants with as regards to proper nutrition.
- Provision of supplement and food supplies to persons living below means of availability.
- Provision of medical aids to mothers and children suffering from acute Malnutrition.
This problem can be drastically reduced if more people are aware of it. Help spread the word and save infant lives.
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