Below are some terms about hunger used by medical and aid professionals.
Malnutrition means 'badly nourished.' But it is more than a measure of what we eat or fail to eat. Malnutrition is characterised by inadequate intake of protein, energy and micronutrients, and by frequent infections and diseases.
Without the right nutrition people can die from common and easily treated infections like measles or diarrhea. Malnutrition is measured by physical measurements of the body-weight or height-and age. A malnourished person has difficulty doing normal things like growing or resisting disease.
A third of all deaths of children under five in developing countries are linked to undernutrition. Malnutrition can be combatted by providing more food and by ensuring that all of the nutrients that the body needs are being consumed.
Poor water and hygiene practices can also contribute to malnutrition, especially if illness prevents the body from absorbing nutrients.
Stunting occurs when insufficient nutrition prevents proper growth. It causes someone to be too short for their age. Usually a result of chronic malnutrition, stunting is calculated by comparing the height-for-age of a child with a reference population of healthy children.
Wasting refers to a severe process of weight loss as a result of starvation or disease. It is a sign of acute malnutrition and can be life-threatening.
Micronutrient deficiency is sometimes called "hidden hunger" because it can affect people who may be getting enough calories, but who are still missing important vitamins and minerals needed for good health.
Although only needed in tiny amounts,micronutrients are crucial for our bodies to function well.
The World Health Organization calls micronutrients "the “magic wands” that enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development."
Some of the most common micronutrient deficiencies in the developing world are iodine, vitamin A, and iron. Micronutrients are particularly important for children and pregnant and nursing mothers.
Image: Ethiopia/Mario Di Bari
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