• Protein energy malnutrition (PEM) is now known as protein energy undernutrition (PEU). It is defined as a deficiency of all of macronutrients, which include carbohydrates, protein and fat, according to Merck Manuals.


    In the developed world, PEU primarily affects people with disorders affecting the use or consumption of nutrients and in elderly people in environments like nursing homes, while it often affects children who do not get enough nutrients in the developing world, according to Merck Manuals.


    Primary protein energy undernutrition arises from not consuming enough nutrients, while secondary PEU happens because of medical conditions or medications that interfere with nutrients.


    A lack of access to food and clean water, unsanitary conditions and infection, and more complex issues like social unrest contribute to protein energy undernutrition, as well as low-birth weight, another major issue affecting the health of children in the developing world, according to Dr. Abdelaziz Elamin, of the College of Medicine at Sultan Qaboos University.


    The two major types of PEU in the developing world are marasmus and kwashiorkor. Marasmus leads to weight loss and the loss of fat and muscle tissue, while kwashiorkor results when a mother stops breastfeeding too soon.


    Possible complications of PEU include low blood sugar, dangerously low body temperature, low potassium and sodium levels, heart failure, dehydration, shock and bacterial, viral and fungal infections, according to Dr. Elamin.


    Merck Manuals: Protein-Energy Undernutrition

    Abdelaziz Elamin: Protein Energy Malnutrition (PowerPoint)

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