•    Symptoms of Marasmus
(i)     Poor muscle development
(ii)     Bones showing through the skin ; no fat
(iii)    Weak legs
(iv)    Loss of appetite
(v)    Anaemia 
(vi)     Grossly underweight
(vii)    Mental retardation
(viii)    Reduced resistance to diseases
       Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is a term used to describe diets which lack proteins and energy - giving carbohydreates.Diseases caused by PEM are common among children.

•    Kwashiorkor and marasmus are diseases which result from PEM.

Deficiency Diseases

Deficiency Diseases

Deficiency: Sometimes simply getting adequate amounts of food might not be enough if the food does not contain the required nutrients in the right amounts. Prolonged usage of such nutrient-less food may result in a condition known as Deficiency.

Deficiency Diseases: Diseases that occur from the lack of an element in the diet, usually a particular vitamin or mineral are known as deficiency diseases.

Diseases that occur due to lack of nutrients over a long period are called deficiency diseases

  • Deficiency of carbohydrates causes lack of energy and stamina.
  • Deficiency of proteins causes kwashiorkor whereas combined deficiency of proteins and carbohydrates causes marasmus.
  • Deficiency of vitamins can cause night blindness, beriberi, anemia, scurvy, and rickets.
  • Deficiency of water can cause dehydration.
  • Deficiency of minerals can cause osteoporosis, rickets, anaemia, and goitre

  • A diet lacking proteins may result in skin diseases, stunted growth, diarrhoea, swelling of face and discolouration of hair.
  • A diet deficient in both carbohydrates and protein may hinder the growth completely and the person becomes so frail and lean that he or she might not even be able to move.
  • Deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals can cause diseases like scurvy, goitre, anaemia etc. as mentioned in the tables above.

Hence one must always make sure to include all nutrients in their food and drink a good amount of water to maintain a healthy body that is free from diseases.


Improper intake of nutrient-rich food may lead to another condition called malnutrition or undernutrition. Without adequate intake of food, our bones become brittle, our muscles weaken and our thinking becomes foggy. In such situations, our bodies are said to become malnourished.

When there is lack of protein in our bodies, repair of wounds and an injury becomes difficult. When this is combined with inadequate intake of calories, it leads to a condition known as Protein-energy Undernutrition or malnutrition.

There are two ways in which protein-energy malnutrition manifests itself:

Fig.4: Two types of protein-energy malnutrition diseases

Kwashiorkor: People with severe protein deficiency are often at high risk of developing this disease. People in rural areas are more likely to suffer from this disease, as there is lack of protein rich food. If one often indulges in diets that are high on carbohydrates and low on protein it can lead to them showing symptoms of kwashiorkor i.e. Edema (puffy appearance due to retention of fluid), inability to gain weight and bulging of abdomen.

Marasmus: Children and young adults are more likely to develop this disease. If there is inadequate intake of both energy and protein, it tends to manifest as marasmus. Chronic diarrhoea, weight loss, dehydration and stomach shrinkage are the major symptoms of marasmus.


  • Overheating, overcooking destroys nutrients and add extra calories at times.
  • Vitamin C is destroyed due to overheating.
  • Use of excess water is not desirable.
  • Washing of rice and pulses repeatedly removes nutrients.
  • Vegetables and fruits should be washed before cutting