What is Urban Malnutrition – PEM?


According to the World Health Organization, Protein-Energy Malnutrition (PEM) refers to “an imbalance between the supply of protein and energy and the body’s demand for them to ensure optimal growth and function. It affects particularly the preschool children (<6 years) with its dire consequences ranging from physical to cognitive growth and susceptibility to infection. Extreme cases of PEM can result in grave conditions viz., marasmus, kwashiorkor, etc

Out of the ~150 million, PEM affected children (under 5 yrs) in the world, nearly 50% is in India! The appalling fact is that PEM is common even among the urban middle class in India. This means PEM malnutrition does not have much of correlation with the economic factors; it also happens largely due to socio-cultural structure, food habits, and lack of parents knowledge about child nutrition. According to various nutrition standards, a child requires nearly 1 – 1.5 gm of protein per kg of body weight.

And to make that calculation simpler for you here are some statistics –

  • 1 egg white = 4 gms of protein only
  • 1 whole hen egg = 6 gms of protein and 5 gms of fat
  • 50 gms of chicken breast or fish = 12 gms of protein and 3 gms of fat
  • 50 gms of lentil (dal, black gram, etc) = 12 gms of protein and 30 gms of carbs
  • 50 gms of paneer = 10 gm protein and 9 gms fat

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