Malnutrition / Obesity

A term used to refer to any condition in which the body does not receive enough nutrients for proper function. Malnutrition may range from mild to severe and life-threatening. It can be a result of starvation, in which a person has an inadequate intake of calories, or it may be related to a deficiency of one particular nutrient (for example, vitamin C deficiency). Malnutrition can also occur because a person can not properly digest or absorb nutrients from the food they consume, as may occur with certain medical conditions. Malnutrition remains a significant global problem, especially in developing countries.

A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.

Obesity has been more precisely defined by the National Institutes of Health (the NIH) as a BMI of 30 and above. (A BMI of 30 is about 30 pounds overweight.)

The BMI (body mass index), a key index for relating body weight to height, is a person's weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m)squared. Since the BMI describes the body weight relative to height, it correlates strongly (in adults) with the total body fat content. Some very muscular people may have a high BMI without undue health risks.

Obesity is often multifactorial, based on both genetic and behavioral factors. Accordingly, treatment of obesity usually requires more than just dietary changes. Exercise, counseling and support, and sometimes medication can supplement diet to help patients conquer weight problems. Extreme diets, on the other hand, can actually contribute to increased obesity.

Overweight is a significant contributor to health problems. It increases the risk of developing a number of diseases including: