When you think of malnutrition, you may not immediately think of the children in your neighborhood or even your own adult family members. The reality is, however, that children and adults face malnourishment for a multitude of reasons in the United States. Learn how to identify the signs of malnutrition during Malnutrition Awareness Week to intervene earlier and take care of your loved ones.
Nevada Children Facing Malnutrition
Children often face malnutrition due to food insecurity and poor diets. According to Feeding America, 84 percent of households reported buying the cheapest food, instead of healthy food, to provide enough food for the family to eat. Additionally, more than 13 million children in the U.S. live in food insecure homes. Lack of food, especially nutrient-dense food, leaves many children in Nevada underfed and affects their development.
While children from food insecure homes often face malnutrition, don’t discount children that come from food secure homes. Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats, such as soda and desserts, contribute to 40 percent of the daily calories for children, according to the CDC. Poor diets can often lead to an energy imbalance and risk for cancer in the future.
Nevada Adults Facing Malnutrition
While malnutrition plays a severe role in a child’s development, it also affects adults. In the U.S., 10 hospitalized patients go undiagnosed with malnutrition every 60 seconds. Patients who have malnutrition often face higher infection rates and increased health care costs compared to their nourished counterparts. This prolongs their lengths of stay in hospitals and prevents patients from returning to their normal lives.
What Can You Do During Malnutrition Awareness Week?
Look for common malnutrition symptoms in your family and loved ones. Symptoms may include weakened immune systems, increased sensitivity to light, frail statures and anxiety. Evaluate your family’s nutritional goals to make sure that you are eating nutrient-dense foods. Compare your diet to the United States Department of Agriculture’s recommended guidelines at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Talk to your family physician today if you are worried about your children or an adult in your life. You can rest assured knowing that your qualified health plan through Nevada Health Link will take care of the rest with its included 10 Essential Health Benefits. Learn more about qualified health plans on our website.