Obesity—child malnutrition

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 21st, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For the first time in recorded history, the number of overweight people walking the earth rivals the number of those considered underweight. But new research finds that malnutrition, a nutritional deficiency caused by an improper or insufficient diet, exists in both weight groups.

Malnutrition is typically caused by not eating enough food or by poor absorption or excessive loss of nutrients. The medical condition has traditionally described those who are undernourished or underweight in developing countries and poor communities.

Now researchers are finding a new form of malnutrition is spreading, a form characterized by eating too much or consuming the wrong types of food. According to the World Health Organization, being overweight and obese… an epidemic some have coined “globesity”… is rapidly becoming a major public health problem in many parts of the world and is associated with several chronic diseases.

A new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reveals that obesity is also associated with nutritional deficiency. Researchers divided three-hundred-ninety-two Israeli children and adolescents into two groups depending on whether they were of normal weight or obese. Those in the obese group had more than four times the risk for low vitamin B-12 levels than the normal weight group.

The researchers recommend obese children have their vitamin B-12 intake and consumption of other nutrients assessed. This could be particularly important in the United States, which has seen the number of overweight children age six to nineteen triple since the 1970s.