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Breast-feeding a baby for at least six months is considered the best way to prevent early-childhood malnutrition. The United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommend that all Americans over the age of two:

  • Consume plenty of fruits, grains, and vegetables.
  • Eat a variety of foods that are low in fats and cholesterols and contain only moderate amounts of salt, sugars, and sodium.
  • Engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes, at least several times a week.
  • Achieve or maintain their ideal weight.
  • Use alcohol sparingly or avoid it altogether.

Every patient admitted to a hospital should be screened for the presence of illnesses and conditions that could lead to protein-energy malnutrition. Patients with higher-than-average risk for malnutrition should be more closely assessed and reevaluated often during long-term hospitalization or nursing-home care.

Further Reading

Andersen, Jean, and Barbara Deskins. The Nutrition Bible. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1995.

Bennett, J. Claude, and Fred Plum, eds. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1996.

Berkow, Robert, ed. The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories, Inc., 1997.

The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing and Communications, 1988.


New Dietary Guidelines for Americans. [cited May 3, 2003]. <http://www.mayohealth.org/mayo/9602.htm/dietguid.htm>.

Mary K. Fyke

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMalnutrition - Overnutrition, Causes And Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prognosis, Prevention