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In the XXI century, the international community faces a number of serious unresolved issues. Among them are threats with explosive nature, which puts humanity on the brink of survival. One of such problems is malnutrition that affects both the developing and developed economies. In general, malnutrition is a lack of nutrients entering the body's cells. Usually, insufficient consumption of proteins, calories, vitamins, and minerals as well as frequent infections causes this disease. In fact, the global food problem is one of the oldest global problems of humanity. The hunger and lack of nutrients attacked the masses of people as a huge social disaster in ancient times and in times of modern history. Consequently, malnutrition has a large database of symptoms and causes of their development with different circulation in the world, which makes it necessary to solve this problem by the international community.
Physiological Definition and Chronic Diseases
The physiological definition of malnutrition is the insufficient consumption of basic food products, their low-calorie value, and deficiency in vitamins and minerals in the diet that are needed to sustain life and human health. Chronic malnutrition, starvation, and unbalanced nutrition are the cause of many diseases and death (Symaco, 2014). In cases of insufficient protein and lack of other essential nutrients, people can develop kwashiorkor, and that is a heavy type of dystrophy. This disease could cause brittle hair, weakened immune system, muscle dystrophy, and lead to other dire consequences (Medina, 2007). In case of kwashiorkor, the professional nurse must provide all necessary advice to the patient, plan a smooth transition to full power mode, and monitor the state of health of the patient. Another common deviation of malnutrition is marasmus (Medina, 2007). This disease causes the violation of human mental activity as the result of insufficient caloric intake. In fact, the symptoms are similar to kwashiorkor, and they are accompanied by weight loss, muscle degeneration, and weakening of the immune system. In the case of marasmus, a nurse must examine the patient and suggest a complete diet.
Symptoms of Malnutrition
In should be noted that symptoms of malnutrition could vary greatly. Weakness, poor functionality of the immune system, and the inability to recover after injuries are terrible consequences of the shortage of nutrients (Symaco, 2014). Signs and symptoms of malnutrition may take an extended period to become visible because the lack of nutrients is a slow-growing disease that develops gradually. In the early phases of the disease, side effects of malnutrition might incorporate crabbiness, exhaustion, and weight reduction. In fact, some of the symptoms of malnutrition occur less frequently. Rarer conditions that might appear to the population with malnutrition comprise muscle shortcoming, incorporate bone agony, joint torment, stomach bloating, skin staining, and loss of hankering (Symaco, 2014). Symptoms of malnutrition in adults may also include a tendency to develop various diseases or very slow healing from illnesses. Iron deficiency, reduction of the proportion of muscle, and breathing issues may be also observed. The features of malnutrition in children could vary from those observed in adults, and children that suffer from this disease may stop growing. Moreover, they may have provisional or lasting deviations due to absence of key supplements and fats for mind development. If this disease is left untreated, malnutrition could lead to death. Therefore, malnutrition is especially dangerous for children and elderly people. In addition, malnutrition might have danger for people that have suppressed appetite, alcohol and drug addictions, and pregnancy (McLaren, 2014). One should mention that there are different malnutrition reasons, and people can become malnourished when they do not eat the proper amount or types of products, thus not receiving enough essential vitamins. In addition, people with digestive disorders that hamper the possibility to assimilate general nutrients are in real danger. Therefore, the diagnosis of this disease usually ends with a specific blood test. For this test, a nurse must analyze the patient’s basic anthropometric data to form the correct diagnoses. Moreover, a medical worker must answer the questions that patient could have about peculiarities of his nutritional habits. Consequently, the treatment of malnutrition is based on the individual case of the patient (Symaco, 2014). Therefore, a professional nurse must complete a correct diet plan with increasing or decreasing the calories, enhance the quantity of food intake, or prescribe the nutritional supplements.
Malnutrition in Different Continents
The problem of malnutrition could be explained by the fact that the population grows faster than the world’s economy. To confirm this hypothesis, scientists have some compelling arguments. One should mention that malnutrition is most acute in regions characterized by high birth rates, and the vast majority of undernourished people live in the developing countries, in which the world population grows quickly (Medina, 2007). However, there is another science-based argument supported by calculations. Some scientists consider that a lack of objective conditions for food security and inequality in its distribution are not causes of malnutrition because according to experts, today there is enough space in the world for the fundamental ability to provide nutritious meals for 20-25 billion people (Medina, 2007).
One should get a sense of the differences in the quantity and quality of human nutrition at the country level. On the planet, there is a vast zone of malnutrition that extends to both sides of the equator. This zone begins in South America, covers a large part of Africa, and then continues in Asia. The epicenter of this belt is in tropical Africa, the region with the biggest poverty in the world. In this area, there are countries where the proportion of undernourished people in the total population is over 40% (Chad, Somalia, Uganda, Mozambique) or from 30 to 40% (Ethiopia, Mali, Zambia) (Rajkumar, Gaukler, & Tilahun, 2011). A difficult food situation persists in the South West, South, and South-East Asia. In South Asia, only 2% of protein intake comes from meat (McLaren, 2014). Against this background, the problem of nutrition in Latin America is less acute. However, on this continent, the area of malnutrition encompasses many Andean countries. The number of undernourished people in these areas reaches 60 million. The share of the total population of some countries could reach 40-45% (Rajkumar et al., 2011). However, for both countries with economic poverty and high level of development the common and urgent problem is hidden malnutrition. This process is called chronic deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the diet (McLaren, 2014).
At the same time, for industrialized countries, the phenomenon of malnutrition in general is not typical. These countries produce and consume more than 3/4 of the world's food, even though there are at least 15% of the Earth’s populations in these areas. In most of these countries, the average caloric intake exceeds 3000 kcal per day (McLaren, 2014). In this connection, more attention should be drawn to the fact that more people overeat and they have an excess body weight (Rajkumar et al., 2011). As a result, such a situation increases their susceptibility to disease and shortens life expectancy. Over the past 20 years, the mortality of overweight has exceeded mortality from malnutrition greatly. All countries, except Africa, have faced the alarming increase in obesity rates of about 82% worldwide in the last two decades (McLaren, 2014). The total number of overeating individuals is estimated at 600 million people, most of them live in the United States, Britain, and some other European countries. In a case of overweight, a nurse must analyze the degree of obesity and provide clear information for a balanced diet plan, including the important nutrients.
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Effects of Malnutrition
In modern times, the world still has 795 million people suffering from malnutrition (McLaren, 2014). Such a situation means that two billion people lack essential vitamins and minerals, and one in four children suffers from growth retardation. At the same time, 1.4 billion people are overweight (Medina, 2007). However, compared to the 1990-1992, the number of people suffering from malnutrition has decreased by 216 million people, according to the UN Organization (FAO) reports (McLaren, 2014). In addition, the number of people who do not eat enough food to maintain a healthy and active life has decreased to 12.9% since compared to a quarter of a century ago, this figure was 23.3% (McLaren, 2014). Moreover, 72 of 129 countries have reached the goal of reducing the proportion of the undernourished population by 2015, which is tracked by the FAO (McLaren, 2014). In order to strengthen this indicator, the FAO needs to interact with those who are responsible for all components of the food chain - from farmers and processors to consumers and government organizations. In particular, it is necessary to take measures to promote the diversity of eating patterns, help to increase the volume of production of foods with general nutrients such as fruits and vegetables, and reduce waste that make up almost one third of the total volume of produced food (McLaren, 2014). Therefore, proper food processing means the quality of production, which contributes to the diversity of the diet. Furthermore, to maximize the effectiveness of this process, it is necessary to ensure the availability of general information to the consumers.
Social and Economic Effects of Malnutrition
As it has been mentioned, for both countries with economic poverty and high level of development, the common and urgent problem is hidden malnutrition called chronic deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the diet (McLaren, 2014). Life in the environmentally disadvantaged cities and high levels of stress require increased consumption of vitamins, and modern technology supply does not contribute to the preservation of valuable micro and macro elements in the products. The severity of the situation is more pronounced in cold climates and countries with economic poverty (Medina, 2007). Vitamin deficiencies are particularly dangerous for pregnant women, young mothers, and children. All countries try to take emergency measures to combat hidden malnutrition, clearly realizing that by doing this they effectively prevent a national catastrophe. Mandatory fortification of mass products has already been embodied in various national programs and fixed laws. For example, in the USA, Canada, and dozens of other countries, people are prescribed the flour. The results of such a prevention are impressive. For example, in Venezuela for a one-year incidence of anemia among children aged 7-15 years has decreased from 37% to 19%, and the enrichment of school lunches in Peru only half a year reduced the number of anemic children by almost five times (McLaren, 2014). Prevention of micronutrient deficiency in America allows them to prevent four out of ten child deaths and reduce maternal mortality by three times. Furthermore, it allows increasing the average factor of intellectual development (IQ) of the population by 40% of working capacity to 10-15 points, and increase gross domestic product of the country by 5% (Symaco, 2014).
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Malnutrition in human society inevitably affects social and economic terms. From this standpoint, malnutrition is the main growth factor of instability in society, the result of social and economic inequality, the constant companion and attribute of poverty. Moreover, reducing the number of undernourished people is one of the main criteria for the effectiveness of social policy and an important part of international programs for socio-economic development (Medina, 2007).
Medical and socio-economic effects of malnutrition are terrible and varied. Malnutrition is insufficient consumption of basic food products, their low-calorie value, and deficiency in vitamins and minerals in the diet that are necessary to sustain life and human health. The symptoms of malnutrition could vary greatly, and for children as well as elderly people, malnutrition poses the greatest danger. In the world, there is a vast zone of malnutrition that extends to both sides of the equator. This zone begins in South America, covers a large part of Africa, and then continues in Asia. For industrialized countries, the phenomenon of malnutrition in general is not typical. In connection with the developed nations, more attention should be paid to the fact that more people overeat, which causes excess body weight. Manifesting itself in the complex, consequences of malnutrition form a trap for the humanity health. Therefore, world organizations perform researches to determine the level of malnutrition. Fortunately, they can highlight some improvements over the last two decades. Consequently, to maintain such direction, world organizations and country governments must provide programs that will help people to get quality food and information about the necessary nutrients that they must have in the daily meal.
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