Malnutrition In Children Isn’t Just A Third World Problem

A thin, lethargic, boy wanders around a dirt road aimlessly while natives sit on the porch motionless watching him.

This is the picture most American’s conjure up when they think of someone lacking nourishment.

The truth is that an epidemic has crept into the Western diet, and has spread beyond developing countries.

One of the primary differences is that in the United States we have the resources to correct the problem.

The Guardian reported on a shocking statistic:

Even people in the wealthiest countries aren’t getting enough nutrients, write Barbara Bush, daughter of former US president George W Bush, and Hugh Welsh, president of DSM North America. Some 85% of Americans lack essential vitamins.”

This is hard to believe!

For a population that has trouble with over-consumption, and exponentially growing numbers of obesity, we ironically don’t know how to eat properly.

Mainstream westernized diet prides itself on high volumes of fried and fatty foods, which stimulate the taste buds, but offer nearly nothing in regards to vitamins and minerals.

Children are getting heavier, and simultaneously sicker. Getting foods that provide enough calories, but have little nutrition is called “hidden hunger”, according to The Guardian.

When this happens, children are unable to develop to their full potential, and adults even begin to suffer cognitive and physical decline.

The Guardian shared more on the decline of citizens who are lacking essential nutrients:

Babies are highly vulnerable to micronutrient deficiency up to age two, when they are in a period of intense physical, motor and cognitive growth. There is no way to catch up later. Without that initial nutrition, children often deal with physical and mental deficits for the rest of their lives. Undernourished children are also more likely to suffer from illnesses, and as a result, less likely to perform well in school.

More than half of American children do not get enough of vitamins D and E, while more than a quarter do not get enough calcium, magnesium or vitamin A, according to a recent Journal of Nutrition study. This can result in a compromised immune system, stunted physical growth, reduced mental ability, chronic disease and even death.”

Hidden hunger’s technical term is micronutrient deficiency. The World Food Program USA has been working with children in the United States to try and make sure they don’t experience physical and mental deficits.

It has been known by many leading organizations in the nation that American’s diets are leading them down a perilous path.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported:

Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2–18 years—affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk. Most youth do not consume the recommended amount of total water.”

The argument is that middle and lower class families do not have access to essential nutrients, or that they can’t afford them.

Judging by the foods that have prospered in the United States, and by the CDC report, it seems that a big problem is that families are not choosing the right foods, not that they don’t have access to them.

While in a grocery store, you have a choice to buy a bulk of your groceries from the produce section or the frozen food aisle.

For the average cost of a pizza it is possible to buy a bag of salad, a cucumber, carrots, and dressing.

The fact of the matter is that the diet Americans are accustomed to has trained the brain to desire certain foods over more healthy options.

Scientific America reported on Paul J. Kenny’s research, he is an associate professor at the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida:

In my laboratory, we gave rats unlimited access to their standard fare as well as to a mini cafeteria full of appetizing, high-calorie foods: sausage, cheesecake, chocolate. The rats decreased their intake of the healthy but bland items and switched to eating the cafeteria food almost exclusively.”

An overwhelming majority, 85% to be exact, do not eat the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals necessary for optimum function, set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This spiral in America’s diet preferences needs a change. The shift should not come from a forcible piece of legislation by the government, nor be the responsibility of government funded organizations.

The change needs to be made by each individual American, and more notably parents. Making a choice to grab the bag of mixed vegetables over the French fries, could start a trend that saves lives.

Please let us know in the comments section how you see the westernized diet impacting Americans, and if you know someone who has suffered from micronutrient deficiencies to the point of physical decline.




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