Malnutrition is a general term for a lack of good health which is caused by an improper or inadequate diet. There are two ways that an individual can develop this condition.
If the appropriate amount of nutrients is not consumed due to famine or starvation conditions, the individual cannot maintain the health of the body. Disease and infections can develop, and eventually, the person dies for lack of body nutrition.
Alternatively, if the quality of the foods being eaten is low, a malnourished state can also develop, even if the individual eats enough food to become obese.
You may imagine the pictures of starving children in third world countries when you think about chronic hunger, but nutritional deficiencies can also occur in industrialized countries such as the United States.
Academic research has linked this condition in the United States to poverty, government assistance programs, and habitual eating patterns.
Poverty inhibits the poor’s ability to access and afford good quality food and they struggle with providing proper nutrition for their families. Often, the poor are forced to choose between paying rent and buying good food.
Cheap, high calorie, junk foods are chosen instead of whole, fresh foods, with the result that adequate calories are consumed, but no real nutrition is provided to the body.
However, malnutrition can also manifest in individuals whose income places them in the middle and upper classes. Americans from all walks of life often allow a busy lifestyle to push them toward choosing convenience and fast foods over spending time in the kitchen cooking whole foods from scratch. Since many processed convenience foods are low in real nutrients, these individuals can also suffer from a lack of nourishment, albeit to a milder extent.
Being wealthy won’t save a person from malnourishment. If a person eats nothing but processed junk food, a breakdown of the body systems will develop and can lead to serious health problems.