Wherever there is poverty there is malnutrition, which means that this problem is present in all the world, even in the more favored countries.
Children fail to gain weight and adults appear withered and old. Even – youth show evidence of loss of weight, with skin wrinkled and arms shrunk to skin and bones. Careful examination reveals that they also suffer from skin lesions, bone deformities and anemia. In extreme cases the abdomen is distended but this condition is seen only in times of war or famine.
Even where food is available in abundance people may still suffer from malnutrition due to certain faulty dietary habits. Using alcohol and tobacco in any form will result in loss of appetite. The habits of eating sweets and taking food between meals should be shunned if one desires to cultivate a good appetite. A diet high in carbohydrates needs to be supplemented with proteins and vitamins. Special care should be taken in cases of nursing mothers and pregnant women, for these conditions make heavy nutritional demands on the system. One of the greatest problems facing nutritionists is the popular use in many countries of foods deficient in essential minerals, vitamins and proteins. Modern refining processes frequently rob food of these important elements; as a result untold numbers of people suffer from diseases of malnutrition.
If the diet is deficient in one element it is often deficient in others. The total result of such a diet is often a bizarre group of complaints that add up to no specific diagnosis. For this reason it is often necessary to prescribe tablets containing all the vitamins and also the essential mineral elements. There are also a few problems related to specific nutritional deficiencies in certain particular areas.