4 out of 10 children die from chronic malnutrition

Chronic malnutrition is a key factor in the spread of infectious diseases due to the deficiency of nutrients in the body and the consequent weakening of the immune system. Now, on the occasion of III World Congress of Nutrition and Public Health, the risks involved, the possible solutions and the importance of their prevention have been exposed.

The latest data on chronic malnutrition indicate that, among the 35 and 40 percent of the cases of death before the age of five they are the cause of chronic malnutrition. This in turn has been the main cause of infectious diseases in developing countries have grown significantly in recent years.


Malnutrition, the cause of infectious diseases

When malnutrition becomes a chronic malnutrition, the immune system is totally unprotected due to the chronic deficit of calories and proteins. In this way, the body will not have enough defenses to deal with some infectious diseases such as Ebola, malaria, AIDS or influenza, or other diseases such as tuberculosis, diarrhea and various respiratory diseases.

The main consequence is that the organism, totally defenseless, of people suffering from chronic malnutrition has a greater risk of suffering complications that can lead to death. In addition, the effectiveness of vaccines in them decreases markedly, which makes the application of any treatment even more difficult.


Less mortality thanks to community nutrition

The immune system is greatly affected by the adverse effects of malnutrition. In addition to changing size and weight, people suffering from malnutrition have a deficit of nutrients, calories and proteins that weaken their immune system. The most serious consequence of these acute levels of malnutrition is the increased risk of another series of diseases such as: respiratory, intestinal and tuberculosis diseases, among others.

Now, on the occasion of III World Congress of Nutrition and Public Health, a group of experts tries to raise society's awareness of the risks of chronic malnutrition and tries to find solutions that, in the short and long term, manage to reduce these malnutrition rates and with that, the infectious diseases that they entail. Thus, community nutrition appears as an important solution to face the problem and provide the population with a series of tools with which to reduce mortality rates.


The prevention of malnutrition, the great objective

The health and economic improvements in some developing countries have resulted in a decrease in mortality due to malnutrition. In the last twenty years, these figures have been reduced from 53 to 40 percent. However, these figures are still very high and, in the current crisis context, could grow again reaching higher levels. The social, health and economic setbacks that some countries are suffering in these last years of crisis can also lead to a setback as people suffering from malnutrition and its devastating effects on society.

Therefore, in the current context, improvements in hygiene or vaccination programs, although they are still important to prevent the spread of diseases and the increase in deaths, have ceased to be the main objective of prevention projects. Now, the search for solutions for diseases such as obesity, malnutrition, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive deterioration or sedentary lifestyle are the priority.

Patricia Núñez de Arenas

Video: Malnourished children get help at feeding centre


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