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1.1      Background of the study

Malnutrition is a term peculiar to under develop and developing countries. Malnutrition has been defined in different ways for example, Marian Hill (1989) regards malnutrition as the absence of certain essential food elements in ones diet. Billies nurses dictionary (18th edition) defines malnutrition as the condition in which nutrition is defective in quantity. Malnutrition is the condition that occurs when a persons’ body is not getting enough nutrients. The condition may result from an inadequate or imbalanced diet, digestive difficulties, absorption problems or other medical conditions. Malnutrition is a general term for a medical condition caused by an improper or insufficient diet, it often refers to under nutrition resulting from inadequate consumption or excessive loss of nutrients but the term can also encompass over nutrition from overeating or excessive intake of specific nutrients. An individual will experience malnutrition if the appropriate amount of or quality of nutrients comprising a healthy diet is not consumed for an extended period of time. Malnutrition is a situation whereby people feed but not in the appropriate portion. A state when there is deficiency or excess of any one of the essential classes of food, such as carbohydrates, fat, protein etc. A body system needs the six classes of food in the correct proportion in order provide growth good health and energy to regulate the body system in good shape and to prevent diseases. The absent of this will adversely affect individual. An extended period of malnutrition can result in starvation disease and infection. According to Jean Ziegler (2007) sees malnutrition to be as a result of several conditions. First, sufficient and proper food may not be available because of inadequate agricultural produce. Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function. Malnutrition may be mild enough to show no symptoms. However, in some cases it may be so severe that the damage done is irreversible even though the individual survives. Worldwide, malnutrition continues to be a significant problem, especially among children who cannot fend adequately for themselves. Poverty, natural disasters, political problems and war, all contribute to conditions of epidemics of malnutrition and starvation. This is not just in developing countries alones symptoms vary with the specific malnutrition related disorder. However, some general symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, weight loss and decreased immune response. Most commonly, malnourished people either do not have enough calories in their diet, or are   eating a diet that lacks proteins, vitamins or trace of minerals. Medical problems arising from malnutrition are commonly referred to as deficiency diseases such as kwashiokor, marasmus, anemia etc. Nkeiruka Nwabah (2001) refer malnutrition as a state of impaired functional ability or deficient structural integrity or development brought about by a discrepancy between the supply to the body tissues of essential nutrients and the specific biological demand for them. The causes of malnutrition are as manifold as its clinically and sub-clinical manifestations. Primary malnutrition is the result of insufficient intake of essential nutrients because of lack of food either because of crop failure, war or poverty, economic depression and a host of other factors, many of which are concerned with the external environment. There is another aspects of malnutrition problems of “over nutrition” and excess food intake which a large proportion of the population and have led to obesity as well as to other disease commonly associated with civilization



In realization of the fact that malnutrition has been a problems among children in our society with its contribution to the high rate of retarded growth which affects the children from growing properly. The problems facing malnutrition or the causes that lead to malnutrition are;

1.  Loss of appetite: This is whereby a child refuses to eat maybe because the baby is sick or the child does not like that particular food.

2.  Poverty: This is one of the causes of malnutrition in our society today; this is whereby money is not available to purchase the necessary food we need. According to Michael Wines ten percent of all members of low-income households do not always have enough healthful food to eat, protein-energy malnutrition occurs in 50% of surgical patients and in 48% in all other hospitals patients.

3.  Lack of single vitamin: Lack of a single vitamin, malnutrition can occur or it can be because a person is not getting enough food.

4.  Insufficient food supply: This is whereby people are not getting enough food, this is whereby enough food is not supply into the country.

5.    Food taboos: Food taboos are food, which are forbidden by people for one reason or the other. E.g. religious or cultural believes they have no scientific foundations and have been handed over from generation to generation. These thus deprive the individual from eating a balance diet.


The objective of carrying this research is to examine the causes and effects of malnutrition on children. The work aims at dealing with the following objectives;

To know the causes and effects of malnutrition

To know what malnutrition is all about

To know the problems facing malnutrition and their prevention

To enlighten the people with the consequences of malnutrition


For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher; 

H0: There is no significant relationship between awareness and nutritional practices among mothers

H1: There is significant relationship between awareness and nutritional practices among mothers

H02: There is no significant relationship between mother’s knowledge of causes and symptoms of nutritional diseases. 

H2: There is significant relationship between mother’s knowledge of causes and symptoms of nutritional diseases. 


This research helps the children/parents to know what malnutrition and their symptoms is all about, how they can prevent malnutrition and cater for those who are malnourished. This study will help to enlighten the parents/guardian the functions of good nutritional diet and the consequences of ignoring good diet. This research will also help to know the causes and problems facing malnutrition in our society and how we can tackle it.


This study is strictly limited to children in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;

 a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.  


It would be necessary at this point to make clear the meaning of some words used in this study.

Peculiar: Strange, eccentric, belonging exclusively to one person or place or thing special.

Absorption: Take in, combine into itself or oneself, combine into occupy the attention or interest.

Pathological: Study of disease

Calorie: Unit of heat, unit of the energy producing value of food

Typically: Having the distinctive qualities of a particular type of person or thing 

Extreme: Very great or intense, at the end (s), outermost, going to great lengths in actions or views, extreme degree or act or condition.

Sufficient: When something is enough

Term: Fixed or limited period, period of weeks during which a law court holds sessions or school holds session.

Malnutrition: Malnutrition, Malnourished, sick person’s people suffering from deficiency.

Inadequate: Not adequate, not sufficiently 


This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

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