At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Hunger and malnutrition are two separate conditions. Hunger is a feeling produced by the body that indicates it needs food, while malnutrition is a condition caused by a lack of nutrients. People suffer from hunger if their bodies do not receive the amount of food they need. On the other hand, people suffer from malnutrition due to prolonged hunger, poor diets or an underlying medical condition. Although hunger and malnutrition can affect any one of any age, it is children and teenagers who suffer the most as a result, since they are still growing.
It might seem like hunger and malnutrition only exist in developing countries, but this is not true. People all over the world, no matter the country, suffer from hunger and malnutrition due to a variety of factors. Poverty, for example, limits food supply and, therefore, food intake. In addition, natural disasters destroy foods and limit the ability to receive more. Other factors that affect the extent of hunger and malnutrition on people are politics and war.
When hunger is not necessarily a factor of malnutrition, the condition can be caused by poor diets or underlying medical conditions. Special diets, for example, can leave gaps in nutrient intake and, therefore, should be balanced. Underlying medical conditions can also cause malnutrition. There are many types of medical conditions that can affect the body's ability to digest or absorb nutrients. With Celiac disease, for example, the intestine is unable to properly absorb nutrients for the body.
Someone who suffers from malnutrition can exhibit signs such as fatigue, dizziness and low energy. In addition, he might experience other signs of malnutrition which include poor growth, poor immune function and weight loss, as well as slow reaction time and trouble learning. To diagnose the condition, a doctor might give the patient a blood test or he might use an imaging device to look for physical signs of the condition inside the body. Among other procedures, the doctor might also examine the patient’s height and weight.
Mental and physical problems can arise as a consequence of malnutrition. It is a good idea, then, to seek medical attention for the condition, as it is usually treatable. If left untreated, it can cause other medical conditions to occur, mentally or physically disable a person, and even lead to death. Typically, treatment for malnutrition involves replacing nutrients the body lacks and treating any underlying medical causes.