Nutritional disorders



While the people of developing countries suffer from under nutrition, over nutrition is the major concern of the developed countries. Some of the important nutritional diseases are discussed here under.

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  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition:

 Protein-energy malnutrition (PEM)-sometimes called protein-calorie malnutrition(PCM)-is the most common nutritional disorder of the developing countries.PEM is widely prevalent in the infants and in pre-school children. Kwashiorkor and marasmus are the two extreme forms protein-energy malnutrition. 


  • Kwashiorkor: 

Kwashiorkor literally means sickness of the deposed child i.e. a disease the child gets when the next baby is born.


  • Occurrence and causes:

 Kwasiorkor is predominantly found in children between 1-5 years of age .This is primarily due to insufficient intake of proteins, as the diet of a wearing child mainly consists of carbohydrates.

  • Clinical symptoms:

The major clinical manifestations of kwashiorkor include stunted growth ,edema (particularly of legs and hands,)diarrhea, discoloration of hair and skin, anemia, apathy and moonfcae.


  • Biochemical manifestation:

 Kwashiorkor is associated with a decreased plasma albumin concentration. Edema occurs due to lack of adequate plasma proteins to maintain water distribution between blood and tissues. Disturbance in the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein and fat is also observed. several vitamin deficiencies occur.

  • Treatment:

Ingestion of protein rich foods or the dietary combinations to provide about 3-4 g of protein/kg body weight/day will control kwashiorkor. The treatment can be monitored by measuring plasma albumin concentration, disappearance of edema and gain in body weight.

  • Marasmus: 

Marasmus literally means ‘to waste’. It mainly occurs in children under one year age. Marasmus is predominantly due to deficiency of calories. This is usually observed in children given watery gruels to supplement mother’s breast milk. The symptoms of marasmus include growth retardation, muscle wasting, anemia and weakness. a marasmic child does not show edema or decreased concentration of plasma albumin. this is a major difference to distinguish marasmus from kwashiorkor.

  • Other Nutritional disorders: 

There are several other nutritional disorders which have been discussed elsewhere. These include obesity and atherosclerosis; vitamin deficiency disorders-xeropthalmia, rickets, beriberi, pellagra, scurvy and pernicious anemia; goiter other disorders of minerals.


Whether a man eats for living or lives for eating, food is his prime concern. Nutrition may be defined as the utilization of food by living organisms. Biochemicals have largely contributed to the science of nutrition. Most of the existing knowledge of nutrition is originally derived from animal experimentation.

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