Ponea Health is delighted to synergize with the rest of the medical fraternity in this campaign as we highlight, promote, and celebrate milestones achieved in the provision of nutrition both at a national and global level. These two pillars are fundamental elements to the maintenance of health and well-being for the community. Malnutrition is a major risk factor for disease and eventually mortality, which underpins the significance of raising awareness and channeling resources in its prevention, such as through acquiring supplements and consultations with nutritionists, pediatricians, diabetologists and physicians.
Many of us understand malnutrition only as undernutrition, which one facete of the complex. As per the World Health Organization, malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in an individual’s intake of energy, protein and other nutrients. There are therefore 2 facets of malnutrition: undernutrition and overnutrition. Undernutrition encompasses stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies (vitamins and minerals). Overnutrition on the other hand entails being overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases including stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
What is the burden of malnutrition? As regards undernutrition, children are the most affected. The UNICEF/WHO/WB estimates in children under 5 years for 2021 stood at: 149 million affected by stunting, 45 million with wasting, and 39 million overweight. In terms of targets, the greatest progress is being made towards stunting with approximately 66% of countries seeing progress. In contrast, particularly owing to the assimilation of Western cultures in developing countries such as Kenya, the stats for overweight/obesity in both children and adults have seen no progress and are actually worsening. In addition to this are 528 million cases of women of child-bearing age who are affected by anemia, half of which are amenable to iron supplements.
To address malnutrition, we need to understand and attend to the causes. The main revolves around access to food, inadequacy in quantity or quality to fulfill all nutritional requirements throughout the year. Access may be related to food production (agricultural resources) mainly in rural areas, or dependent on income and food prices in the urban setting. Provision of relief food may be a transitory solution as the root cause is tackled. To bolster this further, we need to establish appropriate feeding practices such as exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and complementary feeding, or formula feeding. Care and support for women (adolescent girls, expectant and lactating mothers) through antenatal care and provision of iron supplements should be considered as well.
The recommended daily water intake is 11-15 cups, inclusive of foods and beverages containing water such as fruits. Good hydration improves one’s mood, sleep and general well-being. The Public Health sectors should ensure access to safe and portable water to buttress the efforts being made. Immunizations such as against the Rota virus known to cause dehydration, early detection and treatment of infections particularly with parasites which cause nutritional deficiencies or anemia will also go a long way in preventing malnutrition. Inadequate knowledge on what to take and how to manage malnutrition can perpetuate the disease burden resulting deaths, hence the importance of reaching out to specialists such as nutritionists, pediatricians, diabetologists and physicians who will advise accordingly for optimal health.
Proper nutrition and hydration are the backbone to good overall health, hence the need to maintain both. Visit ponea.com today and take charge of your nutritional health, ranging from consultations to supplements, immunizations, antenatal and diabetes care packages among others.