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[mal- + nutrition]
Any disease-promoting condition due to either an inadequate or an excessive exposure to nutrients, i.e., undernutrition or overnutrition. Common causes of malnutrition are inadequate calorie consumption; inadequate intake of essential vitamins, minerals, or other micronutrients; improper absorption and distribution of foods within the body; overeating; and intoxication by nutrient excesses. SEE TABLE: Physical Signs of Malnutrition; and names of specific nutritional disorders, e.g., obesity, pellegra, scurvy.
Worldwide, malnutrition is a disease that results typically from inadequate consumption of foods, esp. proteins, iron, and vitamins. In industrialized nations, overnutrition is more common than undernutrition. In the U.S., 50% of the population is considered to be overweight, and 22% have a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2 and are obese. Undernutrition in Western nations typically results from poverty, alcoholism, chronic illnesses, or extreme dieting.

Physical Signs of Malnutrition
Infants and ChildrenAdolescents and Adults
Lack of subcutaneous fatNasolabial sebaceous plugs
Wrinkling of skin on light strokingSores at angles of mouth, cheilosis
Poor muscle toneVincent's angina
PallorMinimal changes in tongue color or texture
Rough skin (toad skin)Red, swollen lingual papillae
Hemorrhage of newborn, vitamin K deficiencyGlossitis
Bad posturePapillary atrophy of tongue
Nasal area is red and greasyStomatitis
Sores at angles of mouth, cheilosisSpongy, bleeding gums
Rapid heartbeatMuscle tenderness in extremities
Red tonguePoor muscle tone
Square head, wrists enlarged, rib beadingLoss of vibratory sensation
Vincent's angina, thrushIncrease or decrease of tendon reflexes
Serious dental abnormalitiesHyperesthesia of skin
Corneal and conjunctival changesPurpura
Dermatitis: facial butterfly, perineal, scrotal, vulval
Thickening and pigmentation of skin over bony prominences
Nonspecific vaginities
Follicular hyperkeratosis of extensor surfaces of extremities
Rachitic chest deformity
Anemia not responding to iron
Fatigue of visual accommodation
Vascularization of cornea
Conjunctival changes

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