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FARE 1300 Chapter Notes -Overnutrition, Marasmus, Basal Metabolic Rate


Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics
Course Code
FARE 1300
Spencer Henson

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FARE*1300 – Textbook Readings
Chapter 1 – Introduction
- The drama of famine tends to capture our attention, though most hunger-related
deaths do not occur in famines; they happen daily, quietly and largely unchronicled
all around the world
- There is approximately one death every five seconds from hunger
- The tragedy of undernutrition fails to stir such outrage or determination that would
when comparing to things such as fatal crashes; the world hunger problem is too
pervasive, too commonplace, too remote, too hopeless
- During times of famine, adult males do die from hunger, but the most hunger-related
deaths (by famine or chronic undernutrition) occur among preschoolers, though
pregnant and lactating women are also at substantial risk
- Malnutrition in children takes many forms, including vitamin D deficiency, vitamin A
deficiency or protein deficiency, though the most common form of child
undernutrition results from a lack of sufficient calories, with disease and death often
the result
- As we look to the future, global quality of life will hinge on whether the world food
supply grows faster or slower than world food demand; if supply grows more rapidly
than demand, average quality of life in the world will almost certainly improve (food
prices will fall, making it easier for poor people to afford an adequate diet and freeing
up income for the rich to spend on other goods/amenities) but if demand outpaces
supply, quality of life is likely to deteriorate
- More people to feed = more demand for food
- Widespread economic prosperity = more people can afford adequate diets and that
people are more likely to have access to healthcare, sanitary water and education
- As people attain higher income levels they tend to buy more food and a wider variety
including meat and animal products
- Pollution, environmental quality and the availability of land and water resources are
critical factors in analyzing the future of agricultural production
- Agricultural productivity = amount of food produced on a given area of agricultural
land; regardless of environmental quality and land and water resources, food supply
will continue to grow if productivity grows quickly enough; productivity can also
increase because of new technology
- Government policies can influence the long-term supply and demand balance of food,
but the complexity of these interactions show how difficult is can be to decide among
various policy alternatives
- In high income countries, a variant of malnutrition, over nutrition, is the main
problem; in the third world, another variant, undernutrition is the main issue
- Before considering the causes of undernutrition, and policy alternatives, to alleviate
it, we must examine the facts and provide answers to these questions: What is
malnutrition? What are its effects? How do we measure it? Who is malnourished?
What are the trends?
Chapter 2 – Famines

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- Famine is a very small part of the world food problem; even if we could somehow
end famines, we would still have an enormous problem of widespread, pervasive and
permanent undernutrition
- Famines = localized, temporary, and severe food shortages, almost always the result
of a confluence of forces that include natural disaster and poor policy response
- In countries where undernutrition is a serious and common problem, it does not take
much of a natural disaster to create a famine
- The Irish Potato famine was caused by the potato blight, a fungus that caused
potatoes to turn black and rotten in the ground; because the potato was such a staple
in Ireland, this had massive population effects between 290, 000 and 1.25 million
deaths compared to the 8 million pre-famine population; when the potato blight
severity was understood, a large amount of attention was devoted to the appropriate
policy response, asking what could or should the government do
- Technology policy = what the government should do to encourage better scientific
understanding of the causes and consequences
- Trade policy = what the government should do to increase food imports or reduce
food exports during a time of famine
- Poverty alleviation policy = what the government should do to help the poor
- Famine is a shock or a disaster, it is a disturbance to a normal condition
- There is both good news and bad news; the good news is that the needed policy
response to famine is a temporary (though urgent) response; the bad news is that
existing institutional frameworks (laws, power structure, social mores) often lack the
flexibility to respond and exacerbate the impact of the natural disaster
- In times of famine, domestic and international disaster relief agencies respond as best
as they can to get food into the hands of the starving
- When disaster creates the need for assistance, but the local food supplies are
adequate, supplying emergency food relief can be counterproductive; it depresses the
local price of food, in turn depressing the income of the local farming community,
and may lead to other socially undesirable results; in areas where food aid has
become a yearly occurrence, dependency can develop
Chapter 3 – Malnutrition Defined
- One common definition of malnutrition is overconsumption or under consumption of
any essential nutrient
- There are four types of malnutrition – overnutrition, secondary malnutrition, dietary
deficiency or micronutrient malnutrition, and protein-calorie malnutrition
- Overnutrition = when a person consumes too many calories; the most common
nutritional problem in high income countries, although high income people in low
income countries also suffer from this type of malnutrition; their diet-related illnesses
include obesity, diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis
- Secondary malnutrition = when a person has a condition or illness that prevents
proper digestion or absorption of food; called secondary because it does not result
directly from the nature of the diet as do other types of malnutrition; common causes
of secondary malnutrition are diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, measles and intestinal

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- These following mechanisms cause secondary malnutrition: loss of appetite
(anorexia), alteration of the normal metabolism, prevention of nutrient absorption and
diversion of nutrients to parasitic agents
- Public health measures such as providing sanitary human waste disposal and clean
water are especially important in reducing secondary malnutrition
- Low income people in developing countries are at risk for undernutrition, which is
commonly exacerbated by secondary malnutrition; because of the strong link between
the two, undernutrition and secondary malnutrition are commonly grouped together
and simply called undernutrition
- Dietary deficiency/micronutrient malnutrition = a diet lacking sufficient amounts of
one or more essential micronutrients, such as a vitamin or a mineral; most
nutritionists concerns are about vitamin A, iodine and iron
- Vitamin A deficiency = can cause xerophthalmia or night blindness, which is also
associated with increased mortality from respiratory and gastrointestinal disease
- Iodine deficiency= causes goiter and leads to a reduction in mental abilities; is the
greatest single cause of preventable brain damage and mental retardation
- Iron deficiency/anemia = causes reduced capacity to work, diminished ability to
learn, increased susceptibility to infection, and a greater risk of death during
pregnancy and childbirth
- Other micronutrient deficiency = nutritionists have now become more concerned with
zinc deficiencies because it is effective in increasing the growth of very young
children, reducing the incidence of diarrhea and assists in the absorption of other
micronutrients; rickets is caused by a vitamin D deficiency; scurvy is caused by a
vitamin C deficiency; and beri-beri and pellagra is caused by vitamin B deficiencies
- When compared with under consumption of protein or calories, the problem of
micronutrients appears relatively easy to solve as they are inexpensive, and programs
to provide them are relatively easy to initiate
- Protein-calorie malnutrition = the under consumption of protein or calories is a
problem that can only be solved by increasing the amount of food that an individual
eats, and these people are not obtaining enough for normal growth, health and
activity; hardly ever occurs within families that have enough income to satisfy their
basic needs for food, shelter, clothing and heat, but more in low-income countries
where poverty is widespread
- Kwashiorkor and marasmus are potentially fatal nutritional disorders where extreme
protein-calorie malnutrition manifests and is most likely encountered among
populations where the diet is heavily based on cassava or plantains; these plant foods
are almost completely devoid of available protein and children who are weaned on
them are at a high risk for severe protein deficiency
- Calories = a measure of the energy contained in food; the body obtains energy from
carbohydrates and fats; calories provide energy for various needs such as involuntary
functions like breathing, blood circulation, digestion and maintaining muscle tone and
body temperature, physical activity, mental activity, fighting disease and growth
- Proteins = millions of proteins can be made from 20 amino acids in the body, that act
as building blocks for the body’s proteins; proteins function in ways such as they are
necessary for building the cells that make up muscles, membranes, cartilage and hair,
they carry oxygen throughout the body, they carry nutrients into and out of cells and
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