By Aisha Noreen
ur body requires many different vitamins and minerals present in our food which are crucial for the development of the body and for the prevention of the diseases. These minerals and vitamins are often known as micronutrients. They are not naturally produced in the body, so we must take them out of our diet.
A nutritional deficiency also referred to as malnutrition. It occurs if the body does not absorb or obtain the necessary nutrient’s quantity from food. Various health problems can be caused by their deficiencies which can include problems with digestion, skin disorders, stunted or defective bone growth and even dementia.
Globally, nearly half of all deaths (some 2.7 million) annually among children under the age of five are attributable to under-nutrition.
Associated with increased risk of morbidity and infections, malnutrition also leads to impaired growth and developmental outcomes. Means, our children are more prone to malnutrition than adults. Half of the
children in Pakistan are malnourished, leading to mental and physical health problems. These children are often living in poverty.
Malnutrition caused 54 percent of children’s deaths in 2001. Babies are often underweight from birth due to their mothers’ malnourishment while bearing them. It was reported in 2001 that 14 percent of pregnant women were underweight and 2.5 percent of them were extremely thin. Malnourished children often get infectious diseases and since they do not have the right nutrients to fight off these diseases, it often leads to a never-ending cycle.
Many surveys have indicated that sub-clinical deficiencies in iron, zinc and Vitamin A are widespread among schoolchildren and pregnant women. In the national nutrition survey in 2001 to 2002, it was implied that 66.5 percent of 0-5 year olds were found to be iron deficient, 37 percent with zinc deficiency and 12.5 percent had VAD. It has been found that 5.9 percent, 36.5 percent, 41 percent and 45 percent of pregnant women had sub-clinical deficiencies in VA, iodine, zinc and iron respectively.
Moreover, the main reason of malnutrition may be due to poverty, unawareness, population growth, political instability, loss of food stock due to poor harvest and natural calamities. Undernourishment in children has been directly linked with illiterate mothers, low incomes and bigger families.
From the foregoing discussion, it is clear that the improvement in the Nutritional Ailments and Its Prevention requires many factors; i.e. increase in food supply, reduction of poverty through well-targeted programs, creation of awareness about hygiene through community health programs, provision of health facilities, availability of clean potable water, and above all, provision of universal education to eradicate illiteracy.