Malnutrition in Developing Countries

Topics: Malnutrition

It goes without saying that malnutrition in developing countries is one of the most important global issues facing the world today. In this article written by Olaf Müller “a professor at the University of Heidelberg in the Department of Public Health with specialties in the topics of Malaria, tropical diseases and infection” (Heidelberg University Hospital). Written alongside his colleague, Professor Dr. Michael B. Krawinkel, which “has an undergrad training in medicine and a postgraduate in pediatrics. Dr. Krawinkel currently is teaching at Justus-Liebig-University, located in Germany teaching human nutrition” (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gieben).

The article was written in 2005 and is called Malnutrition and Health in Developing countries. The main topic of the article focuses on how malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are the main cause of death in developing countries, particularly in southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition is caused by different factors such as the level of education, sanitation, and availability to healthcare there is in an area. Malnutrition leads to several diseases such as anorexia, severe anemia, metabolic disturbance and many more.

In this article, the professors explain how malnutrition causes the death of several people especially children in developing countries while providing evidence of epidemiology, pathophysiology and clinical features. To demonstrate the severity of malnutrition, many children are experiencing in developing countries and little to nothing has been done to change the statistics of the numbers.

To begin with, malnutrition is consequently, one of the most important risk factors children in developing countries face today. The definition of malnutrition according to the article states that it’s a deficient of macronutrients meaning protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

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This leads to a deficiency of micronutrients, which are electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. Malnutrition “is the direct cause of about 300,000 deaths per year and is indirectly responsible for about half of all deaths in young children” (Müller & Krawinkel). Several factors lead to malnutrition; However, poverty is the main cause. Some other factors include but are not limited to the lack of level of education parents have towards feeding their children. The level of sanitation in rural areas is also a leading factor because kids are prone to diseases. For example, if a child gets food poisoning and there is no availability for healthcare, then the child might get malnourished because of the loss of protein and minerals. Food production also plays a very important factor in leading to a child’s malnourishment because of families in developing countries. Such as in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have the availability to get all different nutrients from different foods. For example, in developed countries, we have the opportunity to go to the supermarket and buy meat, fish, milk, and fruits. However, people in developing countries living in rural areas don’t have that opportunity. They are forced to live and survive with what their land produces, which ultimately might lead to the malnourishment of children.

Furthermore, malnutrition leads to a burden of diseases, such as height stunting, helminthic infections, anorexia, organ failure, heart diseases, metabolic disturbance, severe anemia, temperature regulation and many more. Height stunting occurs when there is chronic underweight, therefore, the body doesn’t have enough micronutrients to grow. Causing the child to not grow to their average height, and this might later have dangerous complications. Some several complications from height stunting are organ failure and heart diseases because the body wasn’t able to fully develop, which can ultimately lead to death. Helminthic infections are most commonly known as worm infections, which can be obtained from animals or contaminated foods. If a helminthic infection is not treated properly by a medical professional which most people in rural areas of developing countries don’t have access to, it might lead to a lack of nutrients and minerals. Metabolic disturbance “plays a role in impaired intercellular degradation of fatty acids because of carbohydrate deficiency.” (Müller & Krawinkel). This means that the pigmentation of the skin starts failing as well as nail growth. Nutritional-deficiency anemia happens when the body is unable to absorb certain nutrients which can make the case of malnutrition worst, and if it’s not treated properly, it might lead to death. In some regions of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the temperatures can get very cold and if the body doesn’t have fat in it, it might lead to hypothermia which can lead to death.

Moreover, the population in developing countries is increasing and so are the deaths caused by malnutrition. People living in rural areas of developing countries are getting little to no help at all, but scientists are coming with new techniques to help locals. Epidemiologists estimated that “852 million people were undernourished in 2000–2002, with most (815 million) living in developing countries.” (Müller & Krawinkel). Scientists all over the world are coming with inventions to treat people with malnutrition, such as “foods with a high content of absorbable micronutrients.” (Müller & Krawinkel). However, in rural communities, “supplies of such foods are unavailable”. (Müller & Krawinkel). Some permanent solutions that can help people in rural areas include but are not limited to teaching locals how to “breed micronutrient-rich crops, through either conventional breeding techniques or genetic modification of existing crops.” (Müller & Krawinkel). Teach locals of the importance of several foods such as “production of dark-green leafy vegetables, yellow and or orange fruits, poultry, eggs, fish and milk.” (Müller & Krawinkel).

To summarize, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are the main cause of death in developing countries, particularly in southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Malnutrition leads to a burden of diseases, such as height stunting, helminthic infections, anorexia, organ failure, heart diseases, metabolic disturbance, severe anemia, temperature regulation and many more which if they are not treated properly might lead to death, as stated by the charts above. Several factors cause malnutrition, some include but are not limited to poverty, access to food production, the level of education and sanitation. The data above was recorded in 2002, but it has done little to nothing to decrease the numbers. Scientists all over the world are coming with new inventions to help communities in rural developing countries

Works Cited

  1. Müller, Olaf, and Michael Krawinkel. “Malnutrition and Health in Developing Countries.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal De L’Association Medicale Canadienne, Canadian Medical Association, 2 Aug. 2005,
  2. “Olaf Müller.” Heidelberg University Hospital,
  3. “Prof. I.R. Dr. Michael B. Krawinkel.” Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen,

Cite this page

Malnutrition in Developing Countries. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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