Malnutrition is a major public health problem. It makes the fight against disease, particularly infectious diseases an uphill battle. Malnutrition undermines the body’s response against pathogens and compromises the immune system. The World Health Organization describes malnutrition as bad nourishment. Most of the time we hear about malnutrition in developing nations due to lack of food. But malnutrition is not limited to lack of food, nor is it limited to developing nations only. It is a result of consuming the wrong types of food- not enough food healthy food or too much unhealthy food. It is a consequence of inadequate as well as excessive intake of protein and energy. Undernourished or malnourished people are susceptible to frequent infections and other health problems. Over-nutrition occurs when there is an excessive consumption of unnecessary food, particularly energy-dense foods rich in fats, nicotinic acid and salt and sugar which the body cannot utilize probably due to a sedentary lifestyle. Over-nutrition is associated with an increase in weight in 20% of the cases. It is estimated that 300 million people are obese and over 1 billion people are overweight, worldwide, and obesity is a risk factor for many health problems, especially when it occurs at an early age in life. The World Health Organization further claims that “A substantial disease burden, including chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, is attributable to health risks related to over-nutrition or the over-consumption of certain food or food components.” Sadly, chronic conditions caused 35 million deaths, globally, in 2005. Eating too much during pregnancy is usually associated with myriad health problems. Because of increased obesity during pregnancy poor pregnancy outcomes have increased alarmingly. Pre-pregnancy obesity has been linked to gestational diabetes, miscarriage, stillbirth, and Caesarian birth. It can also be a risk factor for postpartum depression. Now, it is true that obesity is not always a result of over-eating. Genetic factors can increase the predisposition to obesity as well as taking certain types of medication. However, being aware of the risk factors associated with obesity can help us make wise food choices and engage in rigorous exercise regimens which are likely to reduce the incidence of obesity, whether we are genetically predisposed or not.
Malnutrition is not limited to the physical aspect of our being. It can also affect our spiritual being. For example, sometimes we pick and choose what we want to ‘eat’ from the Word of God. We tend to gravitate more toward the Scriptures that pat us on the back and tell us we the beloved of God (which is true), but unfortunately we skirt around those which rebuke us. We shun the Scriptures that reveal our error and rebellion; those which demand penitence and repentance and humility. A balanced consumption of the Word of God provides good nourishment for our inner man, and makes him resilient to the wiles of the enemy. No wonder the Bible warns us in 2 Timothy 4:3 that “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”