Nutrition and Health in Third World Countries Essay Sample

Nutrition and Health in Third World Countries Pages
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Despite the vast research on nutrition and health, malnutrition is still a major fatality in this present day. Policymakers, social scientist and medical experts have expressed alarm about the growing problem. While most agree that the issue deserves attention, consensus dissolves around how to respond and resolve the problem. Malnourishment continues to be a primary health liability in developing nations such as Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. It is globally the most significant risk factor for illness and death, predominantly with hundreds of millions of pregnant women and young children being affected. In these underdeveloped nations, a high prevalence of poor diet and infectious disease continues to cycle within the communities.

Within these communities, poverty is the underlying cause of nutrition and health concerns. The degree of malnourishment is influenced by the political and economic issues, season and climate conditions, poor water sanitation, and lack of education when women are with child or breast feeding. While malnutrition is more common in underdeveloped and developing countries, it is also exist in developed countries such as the United States and India. In more affluent nations it is more likely to be caused by unhealthy diets with glut energy, fats, and refined carbohydrates. An increasing movement of obesity is now a major community health concern in these socioeconomic nations. Poverty

Malnutrition has long been recognized as a result of poverty. It is widely acknowledged that higher rates of malnutrition will be found in areas with chronic widespread poverty. In some developing countries, malnutrition represents a significant problem that hinders economic development. It accounts for more than half of child deaths in some regions, reducing the number of future healthy individuals to aid economic growth. Millions of people in LDCs suffer from malnutrition, not only because they are uneducated on a healthy diet or the appropriate food is not available, but mainly because they cannot afford it. Political and Economic Issues

Understandably, good health and nutrition are intertwined with a country’s economic and social development. The economic and social role of the state belongs essentially to the realm of political economy. It is shaped by parameters such as the share of national resources commanded by the state and the propensity to spend these resources on anti-hunger interventions and the provision of basic services. In a broad sense, such a “propensity to spend” can be understood as including the government’s propensity to spend political capital, intervening proactively in domestic food markets. (Caldeira, 2009) Climate Conditions

The world is not a level playing field: Some countries benefit from fertile soil, vast forests, and valuable mineral and fossil- fuel deposits, while others lack such natural bounty. Climate affects agriculture and disease rates, often determining who prospers and who struggles. Even as global poverty retreated in the 20th century, it remained concentrated in certain regions, most of them in the tropics. (Whitman, 2008) Climate similarly gives and takes away. Sudden changes in weather overturn farmers all over the world, but in the Global South, where millions of families barely scrape by, one bad harvest can spell disaster. Droughts devastate broad swaths of Africa and Asia. At the other extreme, floods periodically overwhelm China and Bangladesh, which is swamped annually by monsoon rains and melting Himalayan snows that swell four major rivers. In Ethiopia, farmers depend on two rainy seasons, a short one in February and a long one in summer. When cooler- than- usual ocean temperatures lower rainfall across the Horn of Africa, crops shrivel, livestock collapse, and people die of hunger and disease.( Whitman, 2008) Water Sanitation

Safe and available drinking water is a major concern throughout the world because it can result in immense improvements in the overall well-being of a population. Unsafe water supplies are often contaminated with infectious agents, toxic chemicals, and radiological hazards. In 2000, the World Health Organization and UNICEF identified some 2.4 billion people who did not have basic sanitation facilities, and 1.1 billion people without a safe drinking water supply. (Wagner, 2009) Some communities experienced diarrhea, caused by a variety of parasites, viruses, and bacteria that infect people as a result of contaminated drinking water or poor hygiene. In India, more than 500,000 children die from diarrhea every year. Like other tropical diseases, when diarrhea does not kill, it weakens, leaving people more susceptible to other infections, such as tuberculosis and HIV. (Whitman, 2008). Lack of Prenatal and Postnatal Education

Breastfeeding is the single most effective nutritional strategy for protecting infants against infections and diseases. Three mechanisms have been proposed by which human milk constituents protect the infant from infection. Two are based on the immunologic constituents of human milk and the third is its high nutrient value. (National Academy Press, 1992) In LDCs the health of many children are significantly impaired, sometimes permanently, by the lack of nutrition they received during the breastfeeding phase. Breastfeeding requires a mother to have a specific diet. In the industrialized countries of the world most communities have access to many food products necessary. This is not the case in many areas of the developing world. It is not unusual to find that many foods, even locally produced item, are not available to the population because of the marketing decisions of food producers and distributors. (National Academy Press, 1992) Mothers that lack the proper nutrients compromise the ability of their offspring to perform physically and mentally typically continuing the cycle of poverty. Obesity

Nations that have become technologically evolved with labor- saving devices, deskbound jobs, and abundant food supplies have established that these technological accomplishments have distributed a serious blow to the precarious well-being of developed countries. Like LDC’s, poverty has contributed to obesity in developed countries. There are public assistance programs in the United States to help the underprivileged. “The economic theory underlying concerns that public assistance promotes obesity is straightforward: more cash or food stamps enable recipients to buy and consume more food. In addition, welfare’s work requirements may reduce the amount of time available for food preparation, and the once-a-month payment schedule may distort food intake patterns in a manner similar to binge eating—“feasting” when benefits arrive and “fasting” toward the end of the month when benefits run out.” (Smith, 2009)

With the controversy about the cultural values attributed to obesity there is public and professional concern about obesity in the United States. and elsewhere in the developed world. In particular, since the 1980s, there has been an alarming increase in the percentage of children who are either overweight or obese. Indeed, some public health professionals and government agencies argue that this rise in obesity has reached epidemic proportions: in 2004, the Institute of Medicine released a report that identified obesity as a national health priority. Obesity is problematic because it is correlated with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and other conditions that are costly in both dollars and quality of life. (Howson, 2009) Conclusion

Although treatment procedures for severe malnutrition in underdeveloped countries have in recent years become more efficient a lot of individuals still have little or no access to formal health services and are never seen in such settings. Because malnutrition has many causes a variation of actions are needed, including agricultural and micronutrient interventions and the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation, education about and support for better diets, special attention to vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and young children, and quality health services. The United States should consider policies such as restricting the types of foods that can be purchased with food stamps, subsidizing recipients’ purchase of healthy foods, offering cash instead of food stamps, and requiring recipients to take nutrition and health courses.


Caldeira, T. N. (2009). Economics of Developing Countries. Nova Science Publishers. Retrieved from Howson,

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