Dr. Michael Omidi is an advocate for children’s health, and works for the eradication of global poverty. In the following discussion, he explains how to detect malnutrition in adults and children.
You don’t have to be a physician to know what malnutrition looks like and how to detect it in others, and even in yourself. A basic understanding of math and a good eye are enough. Though it’s usually a bit more difficult to spot malnutrition in children (because their bodies are changing so quickly), a bit of experience will teach you what a malnourished child looks like.
If you suspect that you or someone you love is malnourished, or very close to becoming so, then be sure to contact a medical professional. The condition is quite serious, and can lead to numerous physical problems if not caught early on.
Signs that an adult is suffering from malnutrition:
- Experts in the field say the one most telltale symptom of malnutrition in adults is unexplained, unintended weight loss. What does this mean? If a person loses between 5 and 10 percent of body weight over a period of 12 to 24 weeks, that is a red flag for malnutrition.
- The body mass index (BMI) of an otherwise healthy adult give an accurate clue about malnutrition. A BMI of 19 or under is definitely on the suspicious side of the statistics. A measurement below 18 is even worse, and warrants a trip to the doctor.
- Aside from the numerical parameters of body weight and BMI, be on the lookout for other common symptoms of malnutrition, like constant fatigue, concentration problems, always feeling cold, depression, diarrhea that persists longer than usual, wounds that take an abnormally long time to heal and unexplained irritability.
Signs that a child is malnourished:
- Unexplained changes in skin and hair color
- Behavioral changes that appear suddenly, and don’t seem to have a cause
- Undue anxiety, fatigue and grouchiness
- Failure to gain weight and grow taller, when compared to other children of the same age
Malnutrition is a dangerous physical ailment that should be treated by a physician as soon as it is spotted. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor by knowing what to look for and urging them (or yourself!) to get help if and when malnutrition strikes.
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Omidi
The Omidi brothers, Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, are philanthropists with a wide variety of interests that include childhood obesity, global poverty and animal welfare. The brothers are co-founders of the charitable organizations No More Poverty and the Children’s Obesity Fund.