Know Hidden Hunger, Micro-nutrient Deficiency Affecting Children
Posted by Katie Nathan
Hunger need not be explained. Every one of us experience it. What do you do when you are hungry? Eat food. Is any food sufficient to satiate hunger? The answer to this question is a tricky one. Satiating the feeling of hunger and body needs unfortunately has become two different terms and has given rise to a new term called “hidden hunger”. What is Hidden Hunger? Hidden hunger, also known as micro-nutrient deficiencies, is a form of under-nutrition that occurs when intake and absorption of vitamins and minerals (such as zinc, iodine, and iron) are too low to sustain good health and development.
We are aware of the term “nutrients” but what are micro-nutrients? Micro-nutrients are a group of nutrients which are required in trace amounts for normal growth and development. So, small is big because this deficiency can grow to produce irreversible damage if left unattended. And the worst part is it affects children more. A condition we casually ignore may be the reason for stunted growth, cognitive delays, weakened immunity and infection and we end up drugging our children to cure instead of finding ways to prevent it.
Breast feeding is the best you can provide your kid but even pediatricians advise introduction of fruits and vegetables after 6 months since the nutrition got by mother’s milk is insufficient for the kid beyond the period.
Micro-nutrient deficiency is often referred to as “Hidden Hunger” because it develops gradually over time, their devastating impact not seen until it leaves behind irreversible damage. Millions of children suffer because of micro-nutrient deficiencies. Involving fortified foods in a child’s diet is one of way of avoiding hidden hunger. Fortified foods carry all the essential micro-nutrients and can help in countering the perils of micro-nutrient deficiency.
Healthy looking children also do have sub clinical and biochemical deficiencies of micro-nutrients (like Vit A, B2, B12, vitamin C, iron, trace minerals like iodine, zinc, etc). The common measure of good health, body weight index does not indicate good nutritional status in children. In some cases, malnutrition is very mild and does not present any symptoms. The solution lies in increasing dietary adversity by providing foods with adequate amounts of micro-nutrients. The role of fortified foods in overcoming micro-nutrient deficiency has been highlighted many times over. World Health Organization has also acknowledged the importance of fortified food products in bringing down the number of nutrient deficiency cases across the world.
Moreover, malnutrition is not a disease that shows up as soon as an attack takes place. It can develop over a long period, so the symptoms may not seem obvious in the beginning. Stunted growth in weight and height is not easy to cure. The best way is to prevent adverse effects through early detection of deficits in nutritional status. Also, micro-nutrients focus on immunity, brain and mental development which we fail to observe during the child’s early years. So, it is more important to give the child the right balance of macro and micro-nutrients for the child’s healthy life.