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In today’s world malnutrition diseases are becoming widespread problem due to the food shortage and poverty. Malnutrition occurs due to insufficient intake of nutrients necessary for the healthy functioning of the body. Malnutrition results in number of diseases and it is the leading cause of child mortality in the world according to the World Health Organization.

Diseases Caused by Malnutrition


Marasmus is a severe disease caused by malnutrition that occurs due to insufficient intake of protein and calories. It is common malnutrition disease in children that usually occurs in the first year of life. Marasmus in children leads to muscle wasting and growth retardation. Body weight of person with marasmus can be lower than 80% of normal weight. Symptoms of marasmus are edema, dry and scaly skin and loss of fat reserves. Impaired immunity caused by marasmus makes affected person prone to infections. Chronic diarrhea, muscle atrophy, lethargy and delayed wound healing also result from marasmus.


Kwashiorker occurs when a diet lacks in protein. The disease is similar to marasmus but it actually differs by the presence of edema commonly in the feet. Kwashiorker can be observed by bloated abdomen, change in color or texture of hair, enlarged liver, teeth loss and dermatitis. Irritability, lethargy and anorexia also result from this malnutrition disease. Increased infections due to damaged immune system represent another symptom of kwashiorkor.


Anemia occurs due to lack of iron and vitamin B12 in a diet. Insufficient iron intake leads to iron deficiency anemia, the most common malnutrition disease, particularly in pregnant women in developing countries. Symptoms of the disease are shortness of breath, drowsiness, fatigue, paleness, irregular heartbeat and other. Anemia caused by deficiency of vitamin B12 is known as megaloblastic anemia.


Goiter is a malnutrition disease that occurs because of insufficient iodine in the diet. Goiter may cause enlargement of the thyroid gland, lethargy, weakness, hoarseness, difficulty breathing and swallowing.


It is a malnutrition disease that results from deficiency of sodium in the blood and diet. Common symptoms of hyponatremia include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, appetite loss and headache. Over time the condition may cause confusion, lethargy, seizures, stupor and even coma.


Insufficient intake of potassium can cause a malnutrition disease known as hypokalemia. This disease is associated with the following signs and symptoms: myalgia, muscle cramps, tetany, constipation, muscle weakness and muscle aches.

Vitamin Deficiency

Deficiency of vitamin A can lead to night blindness, lack of appetite, dry skin and hair, susceptibility to infections and poor wound healing. Lack of vitamin B1 can cause nervous system disorder known as beriberi. Beriberi is manifested by severe lethargy, fatigue, difficulty walking and muscle wasting. Low B2 intake can result in sore throat, cheliosis, angular stomatitis, glossitis and seborrhic dermatitis. Deficiency of B3 can cause pellagra, the condition characterized by photosensitivity, dermatitis, dementia, diarrhea, alopecia, insomnia and ataxia. Insufficient vitamin B 12 in the diet can cause mouth sores, shortness of breath, white spots on skin, memory loss, severe headaches and tingling sensation of tongue. Vitamin C deficiency often leads to bleeding gums, delayed wound healing, weak immune system and spots on skin. Finally, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis.

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