Malnourishment, a matter of quality not just quantity


In a society that is centered around food quantity, sometimes the importance of food quality gets lost.

Britney Petty, Ascension Via Christi registered dietitian says last week was Malnutrition Awareness Week, something that many people suffer from and one that she works with closely. She talks more about what exactly malnutrition is.

“Malnutrition can be either short-term or long-term, either from just an overall inadequate intake of nutrients or even from the wrong combination of nutrient intake, including vitamins and minerals. Can basically be present with or without a chronic underlying condition or illness.”

Petty says while malnutrition typically affects those sixty-five and older, it can happen to anyone. She adds that those who are malnourished suffer from impaired wound healing, greater risk of infection, and even greater risk of death. Petty tells KMAN just how important food is.

“Food is like your medicine; it’s just as important. You wouldn’t want to skip your heart meds or your medication to help your lungs. You shouldn’t skip your meals.”

She says that doesn’t mean you have to eat 3 huge meals a day, but being mindful is important.

Petty adds that being mindful of not just quantity of food eaten, but also of quality of food is crucial. She says many times only those who are underweight are viewed by the public eye as malnourished, but adds that even those in the obese category can be overfed but under nourished.

“They might be getting adequate energy, but they’re getting it from energy-dense foods, not necessarily nutrient-dense foods, so, it can also lead to micronutrient deficiencies that people don’t even think about.”

Petty tells KMAN several resources are in the community if you or someone you know needs help- whether that malnourishment is due to health reasons or food insecurity.

She says outside of visiting your doctor, visiting can also be a progression step.


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