Nutrition and National Development
There are couples of definitions of malnutrition. The most widely used applied definition of nutrition/malnutrition encompasses three major determinants of nutrition - food, care and health. Nutrition or malnutrition is the resultant of the interactions between/among the three major determinants of nutrition. If the resultant evokes some positive outcomes on the overall biochemical and anatomical, including physiological functions of the body, it can be denoted as acceptable nutritional outcomes; if the interactions do not bring any positive changes of any kind, or rather bring a negative change, it can be denoted as malnutrition.
Malnutrition is widespread among children of the developing countries including Bangladesh. Stunting (which measures long-term growth failure due to chronic malnutrition - both micronutrient and macronutrient) reflects the cumulative effects of chronically insufficient food intake, lack of caring practices and inadequate health services with or without recurrent infections. On the other hand, wasting (deficit in tissues and fat mass resulting in excessive thinness - an indicator of acute malnutrition) can develop very rapidly as a result of sudden reductions in food consumption, such as starvation or famine.
Review of literature reveals that the populations of the developing countries are the worst sufferers of malnutrition. Women and the minor children are the primary victims as depicted by low Body Mass Index (BMI equal or less than 18.5 is considered as chronic malnutrition) and high incidence of Low Birth Weight (LBW- Birth weight less than or equal to 2500 gm) respectively. In the developing countries, on an average, more than 60 percent of the women of child bearing age (WCBA) have been suffering from nutritional anemia, about 20 percent of them have some degree of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDDs), Vitamin 'A' deficiency disorders are still a major contributing factor for disease, illness and short stature. The prevalence of Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is still the single most important factor contributing death (about 55 percent of child mortality in the developing countries are directly attributable to malnutrition) among under five children. So, it is our noble and holy responsibility to develop and implement a nutrition program for the entire country that addresses the malnutrition issues carefully and properly, and directly to contribute in the overall socio-economic development of the country.
The dimension of malnutrition varies across population geographically. The variation of the kinds and degrees of malnutrition not only involves a specific age-group of population, but may affect the entire population of a country. While the problems of under nutrition are rampant in the developing countries, the problems of over nutrition (also known as malnutrition) are widely prevalent in the developed world.
Dr. A. M. M. AnisulAwwal, PhD