Problems with malnutrition, and other nutritional conundrums

Malnutrition affects 1 in 5 children
Photo credit: Alan Janssen MSPH via CDC

A brace of articles in the online press this week put malnutrition and access to healthy foods in the spotlight.

On the one hand the Global Clinical Nutrition Community put together a working, problem-busting definition of malnutrition – of both the undereating and overeating varieties.

We also heard five simple tips for general healthy eating… and how to eat healthily on a tight budget – all previewed below.

Myth: healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food

“Expanding waistlines is a growing public health concern. Globally, the rate of obesity has tripled since 1975. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight, of which 650m are obese.

The younger generation is especially affected by high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. High levels of sugar, fat and salt put children at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, not to mention tooth extraction. Perhaps more worryingly, habits formed in childhood seem to stick for life. This is a tragedy because these problems are avoidable. It is possible to eat healthily for less – much less – than the price of a cheeseburger. The crux of the issue is not cost, but knowledge, skills and time.

We are increasingly conditioned to think of healthy food as expensive, because of the price of meat, fish and dairy, the rise of “superfoods” and the higher cost of organic produce. Yet nutritious food needn’t cost the Earth. Chia-seed smoothies are an expensive luxury; basic nourishment – carrots, lentils, potatoes – is cheap as chips.”

Read the full article here.

Five types of food to increase your psychological well-being

healthy food
Photo via Shutterstock

“We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Mental health disorders are increasing at an alarming rate and therapies and medications cost $US2.5 trillion dollars a year globally.

There is now evidence dietary changes can decrease the development of mental health issues and alleviate this growing burden. Recently there have been major advances addressing the influence certain foods have on psychological well-being. Increasing these nutrients could not only increase personal well-being but could also decrease the cost of mental health issues all around the world.”

The article goes on to look at antioxidants, B-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics and probiotics and carbohydrates. Read the full piece here.

Global nutrition group issues first-ever consensus criteria for diagnosing malnutrition

Overeating and undereating can both result in malnutrition
Photo via VisualHunt

“Evidence of malnutrition – marked by “deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients – can be seen broadly around the world, with the World Health Organization reporting 1.9 billion adults who are overweight or obese and 462 million adults who are underweight.

Yet, despite the serious concern associated with malnutrition’s adverse outcomes and cost, no single existing approach to malnutrition diagnosis has achieved broad global acceptance. Now, thanks to more than two years’ work by members of the Global Leadership Initiative on Malnutrition (GLIM) working group, a consensus report, which outlines five criteria for malnutrition, has just been published.

The report provides a global, consensus scheme for diagnosing malnutrition in adults in clinical settings. The five criteria for malnutrition include involuntary weight loss, low body mass index, and reduced muscle mass as phenotypic (physical) criteria, and reduced food intake/assimilation and inflammation/disease burden as etiologic criteria.”

Read the article in full here.

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