Most people think that obesity and malnutrition are direct opposites. In reality, however, doctors report seeing patients who are both overweight and malnourished, and are treating obesity as a disease. Our growing reliance on fast food and the readily available high-fat, sugar-laden snacks means that many of us are lacking the vitamins and minerals essential for health, as people have stopped eating real food. Thishas led to a surge of nutrition-related chronic diseases around the world, and while malnourished obese people are hardly in danger of starvation, they are at risk for other health problems, along with obesity-related complications like diabetes and heart disease.

Malnutrition occurs when one’s body does not get enough nutrients to function at optimal levels.  Deficiencies of micronutrients, such as iron, iodine, zinc and vitamin A, contribute to “hidden hunger.” While it is difficult to believe that an overweight person could lack essential nutrients while consuming so much food, the truth is that when the body does not have enough nutrients, it craves for food. Unfortunately, often a person responds to this craving by eating junk food, which gives the body a quick fix for the feeling of hunger, but does not provide the body with proper nutrients. Inevitably then, the hunger returns soon after and the cycle continues while the pounds accumulate.

Younger generations are perhaps the biggest concern, as rates of childhood obesity are rapidly rising. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. Children, today more than ever, are overloaded with fast food products and junk food that lack nutritional value, while also delivering a high dose of fat, calories, sugar, salt and “empty” carbohydrates. Consumption of excessive amounts of these foods robs kids of essential vitamins and minerals, leads to obesity and malnutrition, and triggers a wide range of serious health problems.

In order to prevent the dangers of malnutrition and obesity, families need to start making healthy choices for their future by avoiding foods and beverages that contain refined sugars and other processed junk foods.  Replace these foods with whole foods containing real nutrients that build up the body instead of destroying it. Drink plenty of pure water and add daily exercise to this winning formula for health and longevity.