People keep talking about obesity every single day, media reports epidemic rise in obesity rates and physicians warn patients against the side effects of obesity. It would be good if all of us talked about solving undernutrition just as much as we discuss about obesity. Macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) are always in discussion and their deficiency is prominently visible amongst people. But do you know that there are more than two billion people worldwide who do not get enough micronutrients like iron and vitamin A which can lead to long-term health consequences? We cannot totally play blame games regarding micronutrient deficiencies-there is progress made worldwide to reduce these, but further quick actions and steps must be taken to reduce and ultimately, eliminate undernourishment in sometime. Malnutrition is as evil as obesity and to know more about it, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Micronutrients are our vitamins and minerals that are critical for development, disease prevention and wellbeing. These are not produced by our body and must be supplemented from the foods we eat. More than 50% of the child population (between 6 months and 5 years) suffers from at least one of the micronutrient deficiencies. Most common micronutrient deficiencies found in children are iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine. We might say that developing countries are the ones extremely affect by micronutrient malnutrition, but sadly even the developed countries suffer from various forms of these nutritional problems.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder worldwide. Over 2 billion people (more than 30% of the world population) are anemic globally making it a public health concern of epidemic proportion. Almost 20% maternal deaths are due to anemia, leads to poor pregnancy outcome, stunted cognitive and physical development, increased morbidity risk in children and decreased work productivity in adults.
Globally, 1 in 3 pre-school aged children and 1 in 6 pregnant women are deficient in vitamin A which is extremely vital for healthy eyesight and immune system functioning. Supplementing small children aged between 6 months and 60 months is helpful in decreasing mortality rates across countries. Otherwise, these children are at a high risk of blindness and death from infections such as measles and diarrhea.
Zinc boosts immunity, resists infections, helps in healthy pregnancy outcomes and facilitates proper growth and development. Almost 17.3%-30% of the world’s population lacks adequate zinc levels due to insufficient dietary intake of this mineral. Newborn babies and small children are given zinc supplements to minimize incidence of premature birth, childhood diarrhea, respiratory infections and support improved growth and weight gain among infants and young children.
Iodine is imperative for brain development of the fetus absence of which leads to more than 18 million babies born with mental impairments and more than 2 billion people having insufficient iodine intake. Iron fortification in salt is an excellent nutritional introduction and almost 71% households have access to iodized salt. This enables increased IQ levels among children and also prevents iodine deficiency disorders such as goiters.
Impact of Micronutrient Malnutrition
Ultimate side effect is the loss of 100% use of human potential due to increased rates of illness and disability and decreased work capability. Learning ability sees a downslide and children are even subjected to stunted mental capability. All these can be countered by using four effective strategies:
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