The World Food Summit of 1996 undertook the task of reducing malnutrition to 400 million, and the current estimates are that by 2015 there will be 580 million people from malnutrition, while the 400 million mark will be reached in the year 2030 (World Food Summit, 2002).
Malnutrition affects the population in various ways and in various segments of society, none of which is more affected that children. It is estimated that malnutrition contributes to 1 out of 2 deaths (53%) in children under age of 5 with infectious diseases in developing countries (World Health Organization, 2009). WHO also states that 1 out of 4 preschool children suffers from malnutrition, as well as that malnutrition in pregnant mothers lead to 1 out of 6 infants born with low birth weight.
It is estimated that in 2000, 26.7% of preschoolers in the developing world were underweight. These estimates are lower that 1980 however, as they are 11% lower, suggesting considerable improvement. When considering the increase of population in the developing world the total number of underweight children and children with stunted growth has not changed dramatically since 1980. (Kliegman, pp. 189)
Malnutrition deals with the inappropriate intake of food, or type of food resulting in a clinical manifestation characterized by inadequate intake of protein, energy, and micronutrients such as vitamins, and the frequent infections and disorders that result (WHO, 2009).
Protein-energy malnutrition is a pathological state induced by a chronic insufficiency of energy or proteins in nutrition, or a complicated dysfunction involving both. Mild forms of protein-energy dysfunctions are manifested as hypotrophy in the child. Severe forms of protein-energy malnutrition are documented as a variety of clinical manifestations, ranging from atrophy (known as marasmus) caused by a severe lack of intake of energy and proteins in food, to kwashiorkor, as a result of a reduced intake of proteins with a relate intake of energy. There are some combined states such as marasmic kwashiorkor (Mardesic, p.280).
Mild, tempered and severe hypotrophy or marasmus is documented with a lack of growth, stagnation in weight, a reduced ability to fight infection and a frequent inability to stand food. If not treated, it usually leads to decomposition and death. The causes can be a variety of internal and external factors that negatively influence either the intake and use or loss of energy and proteins, and last for a long amount of time (Kliegman, p. 189). Starvation in many parts of the world, malnutrition of pregnant women, reduced lactation because of malnutrition of the breast-feeding mothers, lack of access to other quality sources of food are the most common causes of malnutrition of the infant and infant marasmus. In parts of the world where there is enough food, marasmus is caused by internal factors (Kliegman, p. 189) .
Clinical manifestation of hypotrophy of the infant and small children is a combination of symptoms of the basic disease which is the cause of malnutrition (if it's not a consequence of lack of access to food, the malnutrition itself and the existence or lack of