Deficiency Diseases or Nutritional Disorder

A disease that occurs due to lack of adequate and balanced diet is called deficiency disease. Intake of improper or inadequate diet in human beings is called malnutrition. Malnutrition is harmful for children as it retards their mental and physical growth.

Deficiency diseases due to inadequate nutrition are of three types:

  1. Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM)

  2. Mineral deficiency diseases

  3. Vitamin deficiency diseases

Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM)

Deficiency of proteins in the diet causes PEM. This is the prime reason why you should drink milk, eat pulses and other sources of proteins. Two diseases caused due to PEM are - Marasmus and Kwashiorkor.


It affects children up to one year of age. This occurs in children deprived of mother’s milk. The symptoms of this disease include:

  • loss or wasting of muscles
  • body develops loose folds of skin
  • ribs become prominent
  • body growth and development slows down

It can be cured by ensuring mother’s milk for infants and by having a diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals.


Among children of age group 1-5 years, protein deficiency causes kwashiorkor. The symptoms of this disease are:

  • enlargement of liver due to water retention
  • darkening of the skin with scaly appearance
  • hair becomes reddish-brown
  • legs become thin
  • retardation of physical and mental growth

Eating a protein-rich diet that consists of milk, meat, groundnut, soyabean, jaggery can cure this disease.

Mineral Deficiency Diseases

The two common mineral deficiency diseases are - goitre and anaemia.


Caused due to prolonged iodine deficiency which causes enlargement of thyroid gland. Iodized salts and seafood are good sources of iodine.


Iron deficiency causes lesser production of haemoglobin (respiratory pigment), resulting in anaemia. An iron-rich diet consisting of spinach, apple, banana, guava, eggs, groundnuts can help to cure anaemia.