Malnutrition refers to lack of proper nutrition or not having enough food to eat. It can either be an imbalance or an excess of nutrients in the body. It is a physical state that can be classified into two parts: under nutrition and over nutrition. Under nutrition is a lack of calories, proteins or other nutrients in the body. For example, Kwashiorkor is a common form of malnutrition. It is caused by a lack of protein in the diet and it is common between the ages of nine months and two years, after they have stopped breastfeeding. Over nutrition is when people take in more energy than they use up and become overweight. An example is obesity. Obese people are more likely to get strokes and diabetes. Most people can control their weight by eating balanced diets and taking regular exercise. Children suffering from malnutrition could either look underweight or overweight for their age. It is important to maintain a balanced diet in order to avoid malnutrition. There are many types of malnutrition disorders such as Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM), Chronic Malnutrition and Acute Malnutrition. Malnutrition is often caused by poverty, because the child’s parents do not have enough food to give their child. Sometimes it is caused by a lack of knowledge about the right kinds of food that should be eaten.
Motor development refers to the ability of a child to manipulate his or her environment by using their bones and muscles. Severe malnutrition can have serious effects on the mental and social aspects of children. Protein energy malnutrition is a disease that affects motor development and activity. Proteins are made up of amino acids and amino acids are the building blocks for muscles, bones and everything else in the body. Without proteins, it would be impossible to develop, build, repair and even maintain muscles and bones. These muscles and bones allow us to sit, stand, walk, run and perform other activities and if these muscles/ bones are not receiving enough nutrients, it could affect how well they work. This is called muscle tone and all of our muscles need balanced muscle tones in order to develop. Maintaining healthy muscles and bones through adequate intake of proteins and minerals results in children being more able to explore their environment and move easily or change sitting/standing positions. Maintaining a stable development in the muscles and bones of children can help them learn to pronounce letters and sounds correctly and it can help children react positively to situations occurring around them. Children are normally energetic people who like to be active and play with the environment around them. Because so much of a child’s development happens within the first few years of their lives, lack of proper nutrition can affect how active they are. Every day, a human needs energy so that they can perform certain activities. Young kids need maximum energy because their bodies absorb nutrients faster than others. If young children become malnourished, they may not be able to obtain as much energy as they need and this will make them feel tired and less active.
Nutrition influences babies when they are in the womb and it remains essential throughout the first few years of every child’s life. During this period of rapid brain growth, malnutrition can affect glial cell development and growth. The brain of a human needs special nutrients to run properly. Nutrients like glucose, vitamins, minerals and other chemicals help it function. The brain is rich in neurons making it the organ that needs the most energy. Glucose is used as a fuel source and it is closely linked to thinking, memory and learning functions in children. If there isn’t enough glucose in the brain, neurotransmitters will stop working and communication between them and the neurons will break down. In addition, another disease called hypoglycemia is caused by low levels of glucose in the blood and this will result in less energy for brain function and it is also linked to poor attention and memory in children. Over consumption of glucose can lead to the brain shrinking, which limits blood flow in the brain, causing behavior and cognitive difficulties.
The brain of a child is dependent on the right amount of proteins, vitamins and minerals and without these necessary nutrients, the brain and nervous system won’t work properly. For example, iron is a mineral that is needed to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a red pigment found in the red blood cells and it is necessary for conversion of glucose into energy. Without iron, the body won’t be able to supply the brain with energy and the neurotransmitters won’t be able to work. Nutrition are also vital for the development of sensory systems such as hearing and seeing. Sensorimotor systems involve both motor and sensory functions and they are essential components for learning. Without balanced nutrition and healthy development of these processes, cognitive abilities become difficult to learn. Lack of minerals like zinc and iodine in children lead to poor somatic and central nervous system growth, incoordination and lack of vigor and enthusiasm.
Could nourishment of the children in their first fifteen years influence their academic pursuit?
Do children that are well nourished perform better academically than malnourished ones?
Recent studies have shown that poor nutrition can affect students thinking skills; behavior and health, which all impact a student’s academic performance. Researchers suggest that diets high in saturated fats negatively impact learning, concentration and memory. Also, nutritional deficiencies can affect the cognitive development of students and improved access to nutrients can improve students’ behavior, concentration and energy levels.