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Risk, symptoms and treatment of protein and energy deficiency diseases

World Bank, nutritional


Risk, symptoms and treatment of protein and energy deficiency diseases

As malnutrition is detrimental to nations and families, it is essential to know the risk, symptoms and treatment of protein and energy deficiency diseases. It is important to note, prevalence of malnutrition among the population, hinders socio-economic development of any country in various ways.

A report published in a World Bank publication found that a lack of certain life-saving nutrients can lead to mental retardation, reduced performance, blindness, and even premature death. Similarly, two diseases caused by a lack of protein and calories are kwashiorkor and marasmus. Children are more affected by this type of malnutrition because children need almost twice as much protein and calories per unit of weight as adults.

Only severe deficiency of high-quality protein results in kwashiorkor or bloat disease in children. Again, the combined lack of protein and calories leads to marasmus or bone disease.


Minors get hit by this disease if they do not get enough breast milk or if they are suddenly weaned or if they are fed only breast milk for a long time and also lack nutritional supplements Kwashiorkor is more common in weaned children aged 1-3 years.

The main symptoms of this disease are:

Loss of normal growth: In this disease, the child does not grow to the normal height and weight. Despite the increase in age, the child looks small and thin.

Edema or accumulation of water in the body: The main symptom of this disease is an accumulation of water in the body, especially in the legs and hands. Because of the lack of protein, there is a lack of albumin in the plasma, resulting in the accumulation of water in the cells.

Mental changes: In this disease, the child becomes restless, insensitive, and irritable. The child’s normal excitement, enthusiasm, and interest are lost.

Muscle and fat ratio: In this disease, there is usually a loss of muscle but it is not easy to understand because of the accumulation of excess fat under the skin. The accumulation of fat on the cheeks makes the face look like a moon (Moonface).

In addition to these external symptoms, this disease is detected by several tests in the laboratory. For example:

Plasma protein: When kwashiorkor, the blood plasma protein decreases to less than 4 grams per 100ml. The amount of albumin decreases excessively.

Fat in the liver: In this disease, the liver becomes enlarged due to the accumulation of fat in the liver. The changes in the contents of the liver can be understood by biopsy.

Apart from these symptoms, kwashiorkor also has diarrhea, sores on the skin, hair is thin and light in color and the hair comes out easily when touched.


Marasmus occurs when there is a lack of calories with protein.

If the mother’s breast milk or other complementary foods are not given to the baby, then the body is deficient in both protein and calories. In this case, a 2/3-year-old child looks like a 5/6-month-old child.

The symptoms of this disease are:

Growth stops, the body lacks even a trace of fat and the skin becomes dry and wrinkled. This causes the body to lose muscle and the body becomes emaciated. The hair on the head of these children becomes thin and light in color and the head circumference is relatively small. The ribs become palpable along with diarrhea and anemia.

Food Habit & Treatment:

Children with these diseases must be admitted to a hospital or nutritional rehabilitation center, where other treatment options are available in addition to nutrition.

If the kwashiorkor disease is in the initial stage, then the child should be given high-quality protein-rich digestible food. Soft-boiled eggs, liquid milk, fish, meat, liver, pulses, nuts, seeds, and vegetables should be used as protein foods.

In the case of kwashiorkor, skimmed or non-dairy milk powder can be fed for high-quality protein. However, if this disease occurs, diarrhea or other infectious diseases are often present, in which case many antibiotics are needed. At this time, plenty of vitamins and mineral salts should also be provided.

Rice-lentils mixed Khichuri is a high-quality yet inexpensive food that can meet the protein-calorie needs of children.

The treatment of marasmus disease is similar to kwashiorkor. However, in this case, enough caloric food should be given to increase the weight of the child. If there is a water void, saline should be given.

To prevent protein-calorie malnutrition, the child should be given loose complementary foods in addition to the mother’s milk. A variety of protein and calorie foods should be fed.

So that the child does not suffer from this disease again, the mother should inform the mother about various health and nutrition matters.

Mother’s milk should be fed more and nutritious food should be given especially in illness.

The main cause of these two diseases in Bangladesh is insufficient nutritious food Intake. The reason for giving insufficient food to children is ignorance or poverty. Several other factors are also responsible.

For example, second pregnancy, urbanization, mother’s illness, and joining mother’s job.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s future. And if the children suffer from malnutrition, then they suffer more physically, and their mental development is hindered. Due to low performance at full age, they cannot contribute to the economic activities of the country.

So, one has to be more caring towards the children and take care of the growth of the child. Because the children of today are the future of tomorrow.

Raisa Mehzabeen is a contributor to Blitz and a undergraduate student at the Department of Food and Nutrition, College of Applied Human Science in Bangladesh

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