By Albert Makendenge

For our young undeveloped minds back in the early grades of primary school, the word malnutrition was separated into mal and nutrition. Mal for bad, inadequate or abnormal and nutrition for all the biochemical and physiological processes (ingestion, absorption, assimilation, biosynthesis, catabolism and excretion) by which an organism uses food to support its life

As our minds grew and developed over the years (thanks to the nutritious diets that our families fought so hard to provide for us), we all came to understanding that malnutrition which refers to the deficiencies or excesses in nutrient intake, imbalance of essential nutrients or impaired nutrient utilization can be divided into two types which are under-nutrition and over-nutrition. Much like plants which require adequate nourishment for growth and development and signal (for instance) nitrogen deficiency with yellowing and stunted growth, it is very much the same with human beings. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water and fibre are some of the main nutrients required by the body in their right amounts and their lack or excess of them will manifest in a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and weight loss. For a country whose citizens are struggling to make ends meet and with some surviving on a meal a day, it is not surprising that Zimbabwe is near the deep end in as far as malnutrition is concerned with almost 12 000 children claimed to be suffering from severe malnutrition.

So while the country is fighting to end hunger by 2030 as one of the sustainable development goals, policy makers should bear in mind the need to not only address the availability of food but also the availability and accessibility of a balanced diet for everyone.

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