Since last year, I have taken a deeper interest in malnutrition and food poverty both here in the UK and across the world. One thing I noticed was that the image of malnutrition is often linked to regions in Africa and Asia. While the issues there are not unimportant, people are going hungry in all parts of the world.
There are probably people suffering from malnutrition right now who do not realise it. Food poverty is a growing issue both in developing and developed parts of the world. Anywhere there is an imbalance of wealth, there will be some people who are worse off than others.
Another aspect of malnutrition is those who are overweight or obese due to poor diets. This can eventually lead to a range of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Overall, 5.6 million children under age five died in 2016, nearly 15,000 daily
Approximately 3.1 million children die from undernutrition each year 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world
Globally, about 151 million under-five-year-olds were estimated to be stunted in 2013. (UNICEF, WHO and The World Bank, 2018
Globally, 99 million under-five-year-olds were underweight in 2013, most of whom lived in Asia and Africa (Krasevec et al., 2014).
Some common terms (from the World Health Organization)
Malnutrition: deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients
Undernutrition: insufficient intake of energy and nutrients to meet an individual’s needs to maintain good health.
Stunted: when someone has a low height for their age
Wasting: when someone has a low weight for their age
Micronutrient deficiencies: the insufficient amount of important vitamins and nutrients
Overweight and obesity:
the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.
overweight is a BMI greater than or equal to 25; and
obesity is a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
I believe everyone has a right to have access to nutritious, healthy food and that no one should go hungry. With the research and technological advances of today, health services, scientists and the general public should be able to come together to combat the issue.
It is still going to be a very difficult winter. Distributing millions of vaccines will take months, so there will be a period where some people have natural immunity and others have vaccine immunity, while others remain vulnerable. Moreover, we don’t know how long vaccine immunity will last. While it would be great to get a vaccine on a Monday and celebrate your newfound immunity at a party on Tuesday, that’s not how it works. Those who are lucky to get a vaccine early in the process owe it to their communities to continue wearing masks and distancing until new cases and hospitalizations subside to near zero.”
—Dave O’Connor, PhD, University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Winter can be a difficult time for those with mental health issues, and also for people who have what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Here is a list covering a range of suicide hotlines and crisis lines worldwide for those who are struggling.
For those in the UK, here are some services available.
Samaritans UK & Ireland
Samaritans UK & Ireland offer 24-hour emotional support to anyone in distress or at risk of suicide throughout the UK & Ireland. They have 201 branches open 365 days a year, where people can also talk in person.
Tel: 116 123
Connect offers a free telephone counselling and support service for any adult who has experienced abuse, trauma or neglect in childhood. Their service is available from 6-10 pm, Wednesday to Sunday.
Tel: 1800 477 477 (Ireland)
Tel: 00800 477 477 77 ( UK and Northern Ireland)
Tel: 00353 (0) 1 865 7495 ( Outside ROI and UK)
Campaign Against Living Miserably Help and support for young men aged 15-35 on issues which include depression and suicide.
Tel: 0800 585858
The mind is not isolated from the world it lives in.
While writing one of my last posts, ‘The Effect of Coronavirus on Mental Health‘ – I wondered how things would improve. Before the pandemic began, many of us were already struggling. We were already dealing with poor mental health – the virus just put it in a vacuum. Life seemingly ground to a halt, pushing mental health issues to the forefront.
There has been an increase in mental health awareness, with governments and organisations providing guides and online support – but it feels temporary. With the focus on returning to normal as soon as possible, it’s easy to feel like the help won’t be available when that happens.
The above quote is from an article in Nature by Rochelle Burgess titled: ‘COVID-19 mental-health responses neglect social realities‘. It discusses how the spotlight on mental health during the coronavirus pandemic. Burgess argues that these measures don’t take into account what people’s lives were like before and what’s been the main factor in their condition.
“There is increasing evidence through comparisons of what’s happening in different countries and in different states, in terms of mask usage and mandates, that masks help slow transmission of COVID-19. Of course, it would be ideal if everyone had access to high-quality masks, but masks do not have to be 100% effective to reduce one’s exposure to virus. At this point, any reduction helps. I think it is becoming clear that the benefits to wearing face coverings outweigh any downsides.”
— Linsey Marr, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
On 12th July 1957, the US government became the first government to publicly link smoking to lung cancer. The Surgeon General, Dr. Leroy Burney, who was an epidemiologist (someone who looks at patterns and causes of various health and disease conditions), issued a report which stated:
‘It is clear that there is an increasing and consistent body of evidence that excessive cigarette smoking is one of the causative factors in lung cancer.’
But however secure and well-regulated civilized life may become, bacteria, Protozoa, viruses, infected fleas, lice, ticks, mosquitoes, and bedbugs will always lurk in the shadows ready to pounce when neglect, poverty, famine, or war lets down the defenses.