Food and nutrients

A balanced diet

Home TeachersFood and nutrientsA balanced diet

Malnutrition is caused by an inadequate diet:

  • Under-feeding
  • Overfeeding
  • An unbalanced diet

Malnutrition is a major health problem throughout the world:

  • 2 billion people suffer from a lack of iron
  • 200 million people are undernourished and suffer from a lack of protein and energy
  • 300 million people are obese as a result of taking in excessive amounts of energy-providing nutrients
  • 150 million people are involved in excessive alcohol consumption

See the school curricula Download the lesson



See the script Hide the script Download the script


Malnutrition is a major health issue in the world. Malnutrition is when someone is not eating enough or is underfeeding.

In Western societies, malnutrition is often linked to overeating, which accumulates health risks. Yet you can also find incidents of undernourishment, for example in the elderly.

Extreme diets excluding several food groups can lead to nutritional deficiencies. This is what is known as an imbalanced diet. If a food group is missing from or not sufficiently present in our diet, we also talk about malnutrition.


Iron is one of the most readily available elements in the world, but it is the one most often missing from people's diets. Two billion people suffer from a lack of iron.

Meat and fish are two good sources of iron. Vegetables sometimes contain good quantities of iron but it is less easy to absorb. Absorption of iron can be improved by eating food rich in vitamin C at the same time. A lack of iron can be caused by intestinal parasites, loss of blood or higher requirements during growth. If diet is not sufficient alone, you can also make up for this lack of iron with dietary supplements.

Malnutrition due to undernourishment is a major problem in some parts of the world, where most of the population suffers from various severe deficiencies. This state often damages physical and cerebral development in children and, in some cases, contributes to premature deaths in babies and infants.

Share this