Sociology Essay: Malnourishment In The United States


Malnourishment occurs when there is inadequacy of one, or more, vitamins, minerals or other essential nutrients in the diet (, May, 2009). Until a few decades ago, the severity of malnourishment was thought to be faced only by the poverty-stricken population of developing nations. One of the reasons for malnourishment in a developed nation like the U.S. could definitely be improper eating habits. In this fast world, it is quite likely that one falls prey to compromising on health, thereby paving way for malnourishment.

Apart from poor eating habits, a few other causes of malnourishment in the U.S. are obesity, chronic illness, depression, old age and lower income. Disease associated malnutrition affects 10% of the chronically ill patients and between 30 and 50% are admitted to hospitals. According to the United States department of agriculture (USDA), 15.8 million children under 18 do not get enough nutritious food,with District of Columbia and Mississippi topping the list.

In 2013, 14.7 million children in the U.S. lived in poverty. While extensive measures are being taken to combat the issue, this number is drastically increasing among the well-fed population as well. The deficiencies of vitamin D and E are the most common among growing children and adults whereas zinc deficiency is the least common (Fulgoni, 2011). A typical American diet mainly consists of simple sugars, saturated fat and refined flour compared to nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Increased consumption of high calories in the form of sugars and aerated drinks leads to obesity, if not accompanied by essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Obesity in turn causes diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, depression and breathing disorders. Therefore the significance of nutrients should not be neglected and a conscious effort from each individual is detrimental to fighting malnourishment in the U.S. Every year, compulsory screening should also be implemented by the authorities.


  1. Coleman-Jensen,A., Gregory,C.  and Singh,A. (2014). Household food security in the United States in 2013. USDA Ers.
  2. DeNavas-Walt,C. and B. D. Proctor. (2014). Income and poverty in the United States:2013. U. S. Census Bureau
  3. Gundersen, C., A. Satoh, A. Dewey, M. Kato & E. Engelhard. Map the Meal Gap 2015: Food Insecurity and Child Food Insecurity Estimates at the County Level. Feeding America, 2015.
  4. Somanchi M, et al. The facilitated early enteral and dietary management effectiveness trial in hospitalized patients with malnutrition. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2011;35 (2): 209-216.

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