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Dec 2, 2013

The Importance of Nutrition in Medical Health Plans

Nutrition Economics

“The role of nutrition and its potential to reduce the public health burden through alleviating nutrition deficiencies

As obesity becomes more prevalent in first world countries, so does under-nutrition. So what is under-nutrition compared to mal-nutrition? Mal-nutrition occurs when an individual does not receive an adequate amount of nutrients or calories and in turn feels sick, hungry and loses weight. Under-nutrition occurs when an individual receives enough if not an abundant amount of calories, yet is not receiving the correct nutrients, and ultimately does not feel their best. With modern food production techniques, under-nutrition is growing mostly in countries where food is most bountiful. Take the United States for example, foods are being produced that strip whole foods of their nutrients through enriching, frying, and making food quick for consumption such as fast food. This factor contributes immensely to the burden of disease on society.

As nutrition is undeniably a determinant of Non Communicable Diseases (NCD), the ability to modify this area of concern poses new hope in reducing the burden of disease and also avoiding it altogether. Under-nutrition has short term consequences of morbidity, disability and death, but also in the long term for mental health, economic productivity, reproductive performance, and diabetes prevention.

At a United Nation’s assembly on NCDs and the role of health economics, a broadening amount of research was reviewed. Acknowledging that fifty percent of all cancers can be avoided, along with type 2 diabetes, and three fourths of all heart disease incidences, using diet in Public Health strategies is key in alleviating the burden of disease, and in turn improving the overall health of a society. Implemented social marketing and policy changes hope to improve the quality of food being offered to populations most at risk, and in turn improving the quality of life for both mal-nourished and under-nourished countries.

This movement also aims to increase the knowledge base of health professionals in hopes that nutrition will be incorporated into medical plans of all patients whether as preventative measures or as treatment as well. Eradicating hunger and reducing under-nutrition is not just an ethical concern by the United Nations but also will pose a financial benefit as burden of disease is expected to be reduced.

For more information please visit: Nutrition economics – food as an ally of public health