malnutrition(redirected from undernutrition)
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malnutrition,insufficiency of one or more nutritional elements necessary for health and well-being. Primary malnutrition is caused by the lack of essential foodstuffs—usually vitamins, minerals, or proteins—in the diet. In some areas of the world a poor economy or such regional conditions as drought or overpopulation cause a scarcity of certain foodstuffs, and a certain portion of the population is malnourished because essential nutrients are not available. However, even when food is plentiful, malnutrition can result from poor eating habits or poverty. Primary malnutrition, due to a lack of food or an inability to afford nutritious food, has been estimated to affect as many as a fourth of the world's children. Secondary malnutrition is caused by failure of absorption or utilization of nutrients (as in disease of the gastrointestinal tract, thyroid, kidney, liver, or pancreas), by increased nutritional requirements (growth, injuries, burns, surgical procedures, pregnancy, lactation, fever), or by excessive excretion (diarrhea). Severe and persistent malnutrition can lead to wasting, stunting, and death.
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Defective nutrition due to inadequate intake of nutrients or to their faulty digestion, assimilation, or metabolism.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
lack of adequate nutrition resulting from insufficient food, unbalanced diet, or defective assimilation
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005