Obesity and Malnutrition

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Obesity, a form of malnutrition, is commonly defined as a body mass index over 30. Being overweight is defined as a body mass index of 25-30. There has been an increasing rate of obesity in the United States, especially among children. Obesity is now considered a national epidemic in many developed countries (such as the United States) but some persons feel that this concern has also caused a stigmatization of the obese.

Eating disorders can result in malnutrition. Bulimia is a condition marked by periods of binge eating followed by purging. This differs from compulsive overeating, or binge eating, which occurs when an individual eats compulsively but does not purge and becomes overweight. Starvation, either from the lack of available food or from self-imposed starvation, as in anorexia nervosa, will also cause malnutrition.

Despite a growing rate of obesity in developed countries, undernutrition remains the most common nutritional problem in developing nations. The combination of protein deficiency and energy deficiency is commonly known as protein-energy malnutrition (PEM). This form of malnutrition is most common in underveloped and developing countries, but also appears in geographic pockets of developed countries.

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