Malnutrition

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Fighting epidemics with food

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Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess (too high an intake), or in the wrong proportions.

A number of different nutrition disorders may arise, depending on which nutrients are under or overabundant in the diet.

The World Health Organization cites malnutrition as the greatest single threat to the world's public health. Improving nutrition is widely regarded as the most effective form of aid. Emergency measures include providing deficient micronutrients through fortified sachet powders, such as peanut butter, or directly through supplements. The famine relief model increasingly used by aid groups calls for giving cash or cash vouchers to the hungry to pay local farmers instead of buying food from donor countries, often required by law, as it wastes money on transport costs.

There are various methods used to gauge the degree of malnutrition, including the Gomez Classification. This classifies as 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree malnutrition according to the percentage of normal body weight a person is.

Long term measures include fostering nutritionally dense agriculture by increasing yields, while making sure negative consequences affecting yields in the future are minimized.

Recent efforts include aid to farmers. However, World Bank strictures restrict government subsidies for farmers, while the spread of fertilizer use may adversely affect ecosystems and human health and is hampered by various civil society groups.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

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