Nutritional deficiency diseases

If people eat a balanced diet, they suffer from some diseases called nutritional deficiency diseases. The common nutritional deficiency diseases include:


This disease is caused by lack of or insufficient consumption of body-building foods (proteins). A child suffering from kwashiorkor has a swollen stomach, face, hands and feet, which when pressed with a finger leave a dent. The hair is fine, brown and thin.

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Marasmus is another word for starvation or simply not having enough food to eat. Children with marasmus are thin and underweight, sometimes weighing only half as much as they should for their age. The arms and legs are like sticks and the ribs can be seen. They have very bright eyes and a wrinkled face that looks like that of an old person.


This disease is caused by lack of a mineral called iron in the diet. Foods rich in iron include meat, poultry, eggs, beans, leafy vegetables and groundnuts. Iron is needed in the body to make blood. A person suffering from anaemia has pale inner side of the mouth, pale eyes and palms of the hand also look pale. It also causes decreased physical activity and reduced resistance to diseases.


If a person’s eyes and skin are to stay healthy, he/she must eat food with vitamin A. Foods rich in vitamin A include liver, milk products, yellow sweet potato, pumpkin and dark green leafy vegetables. If there is not enough vitamin A in someone’s food, he/she becomes unable to see in the dark.