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When diet is not proper or not balanced, it causes undernutrition or malnutrition. The absence of certain nutrients in the daily diet over a period of time causes deficiency diseases. The condition is termed as malnutrition. 
Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person's intake of energy and nutrients.
Malnutrition occurs when the nutrients in the body are not obtained in proper proportions in the diet. Malnutrition refers to when a person's diet does not provide enough nutrients or the right balance of nutrients for optimal health. The word malnutrition refers to the condition that results when a person does not take a balanced diet.
The diseases which are caused due to a lack of nutrients in the diet are called Deficiency Diseases.
Causes of malnutrition:
  • Inappropriate choice of diet
  • Low income or poverty
  • Difficulty in obtaining food
  • Various physical and mental health conditions
  • Lack of awareness and illiteracy
  • Food insecurity.
The deficiency of proteins and energy deficiency leads to severe conditions called:
1. Kwashiorkar
2. Marasmus
Kwashiorkar is a severe protein deficiency that affects children between \(1-5\) years of age. It is also called as edematous malnutrition as it is associated with edema or fluid retention, or swelling.
Kwashiorkar is caused mainly when the diet lacks proteins but consists only of carbohydrates. It is associated with a poor-quality diet. It is caused due to lack of protein in the diet and in areas where there is famine. The symptoms of Kwashiorkar include:
1. Stunted growth
2. Swelling observed in face and limbs
3. Diarrhoea
4. Stomach bulging
5. Enlarged fatty liver
Kwashiorkor & Marasmus
Marasmus affects infants who are below the age of \(1\)year. It is caused when the diet is poor in proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is severe malnutrition that is caused due to energy or calorie insufficiency.
It causes loss of adipose tissue, muscles and fat, which is why the children look skinny and famished. The symptoms of Marasmus include:
1. Slow growth of body
2. Skinny appearance
3. Weight loss
Anganwadi centre:
Anganwadi centre is a children health care centre present in India. It was started in the year \(1975\) as part of the Integrated Child Development Services Program. The motto of the Anganwadi centre is to combat malnutrition and hunger in children. Here nutrition and health education are also provided. It is mainly for children from the age of \(0 - 6\) \(years\). Pregnant and lactating women also benefit from the centre.