To date, over 800 million people, roughly twenty percent of the
worlds population, live in absolute poverty. From
this number, 200 million children below the age of five living in
developing countries suffer from sickness brought about by hunger
including severe malnutrition problems. An estimated of 12 million
will die within the year due to starvation or by some other
sickness resulting from malnutrition. The remaining who survives
will face a harder future, as they would have to cope with physical
as well as mental ailments from malnutrition.
Malnutrition is implicated majority of all mortalities. It is
found in all societies, most commonly identified with the poor. The
problem of malnutrition contributes to half of all child deaths
worldwide - a proportion unmatched by any infectious disease since
the Black Death. During the early 80s, media dramatically
portrayed the hunger of Africa children all over the
streets, skin and bone with their bloated bellies, too weak to even
get up and brought to clear view the plague of malnutrition.
Yet the problem itself is neither contagious nor unavoidable.
During its early years, the Food and Agricultural Organization
of the United Nations (FAO) used the term "undernutrition" to
indicate an inadequate intake of calories (John W. Warnock).
"Malnutrition" was medically defined as the deficiency of other
essential nutrients of the body, particularly protein, vitamins, or
minerals. In underdeveloped countries, malnutrition is immediately
equated to a deficiency in caloric intake caused by food
The most common problems in underdeveloped countries today are
marasmus and kwashiorkor. Marasmus, otherwise known as infantile
athropy, athepsia or pedathropy, is a severe chronic undernutrition
in children and infants caused by caloric deficiency. Children of
undernourished mothers are born with less weight than the average,
and need more nutritional intake than international nutrition
standards. With the presence of marasmus, the child experiences an
increase of total body water along with a depletion of electrolyte
commonly known as edema. Along with this, the patient becomes
susceptible to hypothermia, or circulatory failure. Perhaps the
most serious effect of this ailment is the stunting of the
childrens growth, particularly in brain development.
Marasmus-inflicted children often have a reduced number of brain
cells as well as brain sizes.
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