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For most of us, when we hear the term malnutrition, we think of undernourished or starving people. But we’re only half right. Therefore, to improve health literacy, it’s important to fully understand the term malnutrition — because it can be lifesaving.

There’s been a worldwide push to improve awareness of malnutrition so that we can combat the issue. Malnutrition Awareness Week was launched in 2012 by The American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), a nonprofit organization whose members are involved in providing clinical nutrition therapies.

Healthcare professionals are tasked with the prevention, early detection, and treatment of malnutrition but it’s an eye-opening, global issue that we should all know more about.

You or your family may be malnourished, and you may not even realize it.

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. Understand, this refers to any time your dietary intake is not serving your body well, and that can cause a number of harmful health conditions.

Malnutrition Has Two Groupings

  1. Group 1: Undernutrition – This group can include the following conditions:
  2. Stunting or low height for age
  3. Wasting or low weight for height
  4. Underweight or low weight for age
  5. Micronutrient deficiencies/insufficiencies or a lack of important vitamins and minerals
  6. Group 2: Overweight – This group can include the following conditions:
  7. Obesity
  8. Diet-related noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer

Malnutrition affects people in every country. Did you realize that:

  • 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight
  • 462 million are underweight
  • 41 million children under the age of 5 are overweight or obese
  • 159 million children are stunted

Effects of Malnutrition

Plain and simple, when you are lacking the proper nutrition, your body does not function at its optimal level. It’s hard to believe this remains a problem in the 21st century, but the truth is that it is a global issue occurring in both wealthy and poverty-stricken counties. Malnutrition is problematic for several reasons.

For many families, nutritious foods are financially out of reach. Face it, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy products are expensive. It’s often cheaper to satisfy hunger with higher-calorie foods that are typically high in fat, sugar, and salt. This can cause you to be obese and lack the proper vitamins and nutrients to keep your body running efficiently.

For those with little access to food and water, or a condition that stops their body from obtaining the right balance of nutrients, their health can be severely impacted. In some cases, this can become life-threatening. It can stunt proper growth in children and cause short and long-term health issues.

For example, without proper nutrients, your body will take longer to heal wounds, and there is a higher risk of infection. A lack of vitamin A causes vision problems, and a lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy.

People who have issues with swallowing, digestive problems like nausea or diarrhea, mental health issues, eating disorders, mobility challenges, those who are socially isolated, and older adults may also have to deal with malnutrition.

There are some telltale signs of malnutrition.

Symptoms include:

  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite or interest in food or drink
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • An inability to concentrate
  • Always feeling cold
  • Depression
  • Loss of fat, muscle mass, and body tissue
  • Higher risk of getting sick and taking longer to heal
  • Longer healing time for wounds
  • Slow development in children physically and mentally
  • Over time, heart failure

How Any Lab Test Now® Can Help

In an effort to educate you about how to best prevent and manage chronic and everyday illnesses, Any Lab Test Now® has a number of nutrition tests that help you determine if you are receiving the proper nutrients to keep your body functioning effectively. Tests look at your nutrition at two levels. First, the Basic Nutritional Panel. This panel helps you rule out malnutrition and adrenal gland disorders. It screens for the systemic or macronutrient level of nutrients the body needs in large amounts to provide energy, like carbs, proteins, and fats.

Micronutrients, on the other hand, are nutrients at the cellular level that our bodies need, but in smaller amounts, like fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Our Micronutrient Test measures your body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

At Any Lab Test Now®, we provide a safe and confidential environment that is convenient for you and your family to have nutritional testing done. You own the results and can choose to share them with your provider if the results show any abnormalities.

Schedule an Appointment

Malnutrition is a serious condition that may be affecting you or your family — and you may not even realize it. That’s why looking out for your health through blood work at Any Lab Test Now® is vital to you living a healthy life.

We have more than 200 locations across the country. Click here to find the nearest Any Lab Test Now® location and schedule an appointment.