In an era of virtual advancement eating healthy food has become a highly stressed upon issue because of increasing cases of malnutrition. Despite the fact, that deficiencies of macronutrients have been studied for decades, it has come to the point of focus that the deficiencies of micronutrients is also of great concern not only in underdeveloped countries but also in highly developed societies. In Pakistan only, the mortality rate of children under five is 89 per 1,000 live births just because of micronutrient deficiencies. Today every consumer prefers healthy yet convenient food products which contribute to an overall nutritious diet. Food manufacturers have responded by creating innovative products such as dietary, modified or functional foods. In addition to being nutritious, functional foods also provide the consumer with a health benefit and are expected to become a major growth sector. It is important to introduce value added products in market on cheaper prices so that people from all family backgrounds can avail these products and overcome micronutrient deficiencies and hidden hunger
Effects of malnutrition in pregnant women
Hassam Ishtiaq*, Hira Iftikhar, Akhtar Ali, Tahir Ahmad and Umar Ali Amjad
*National Institute of Food Science and Technology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
Malnutrition is a major issue in developing and developed countries around the world due to under nutrition and overweight problems respectively. 39% of world population is facing the overweight problem and being obese during pregnancy can have a major impact on female and baby health. Being obese during pregnancy increases the risk of various complications for female including: Gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, overdue pregnancy, labour problems, pregnancy loss, etc. Complications may arise in newborns due to obese mother including: Macrosomia, chronic conditions and birth defects. Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight. Supportive environments and communities are fundamental in shaping people’s choices, thus forcing people to make the healthier choice of foods and regular physical exercise to control overweight problems. In Pakistan, especially in Thar, large numbers of deaths are reported every year due to malnutrition. Thar communities, particularly women, lack awareness of their health concerns. An underweight woman has a high risk of having a low birth weight infant, especially if she is not taking adequate diet during child bearing age as pregnancy requirement of micro and macro nutrients is higher. Malnutrition prior to conception prevents the placenta from developing completely. A poorly developed placenta cannot deliver optimum nourishment to the foetus, and the born infant will be small and with possible physical and cognitive abnormalities. Malnutrition, coupled with low birth weight, is a major factor in more than half of all deaths of children under four years of age worldwide. An underweight woman improves her chances of having a healthy baby by gaining sufficient weight prior to conception or by gaining extra pounds during pregnancy. To gain weight and ensure nutrient adequacy, an underweight woman can follow the dietary recommendations for pregnant women.
Malnutrition in women escorts to economic losses for families, communities, and countries because malnutrition reduces women’s ability to work and can create ripple effects that stretch through generations. Even if it’s not realized, women serve as back bone of farming sector in Pakistan. It is of great importance to ensure optimal health of women especially during pregnancy and lactation. Women at child bearing age need protein, iron, and other micronutrients to meet the body’s increased demands. But usually they suffer from iron deficiency anemia, protein energy malnutrition, iodine deficiency; they have low serum calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin A levels. As a result to that, not only their lives are endangered but malnutrition poses a variety of other threats to them. It weakens women’s ability to survive childbirth, makes them more susceptible to infections, and leaves them with fewer reserves to recover from illness. Increase the problems of maternal morbidity and mortality. More than that the infants born to them are at higher risk of malnutrition and their lives remain in danger as well. To eradicate factors causing malnutrition in women, first step should be to empower women at family and community level and to make their community family members realize the importance of their health and nutrition status.
To have a better future ahead as a society and country there is need to create gender equality. Women being most vulnerable group in South Asian region need to be empowered. As most of our economy depends on agriculture and women had played vital role in field yet have been unrecognised. In University of Agriculture Faisalabad, there programs being launched for women empowerment and gender sensitization in which rural women are being focused in terms of agribusinesses, health and sanitization, education and malnutrition issues.