Factors Which May Affect the Biochemical Response to Protein-Calorie Malnutrition

  • R. G. Whitehead


At a recent meeting of nutritional scientists in England, Dr. Cicely Williams made the following very important comment. She described how, until 1950, she had pleaded with the medical profession to recognise that kwashiorkor was caused by protein deficiency. Since 1950, however, she has been insisting that kwashiorkor is not just protein deficiency but many other things as well. I am sure that this warning to the scientists was a timely one; pediatricians who are trying to treat and cure malnourished children are only too aware of the complexity of protein- calorie malnutrition, but there is an unfortunate gulf between their experiences and the investigations of the medical scientists. There has been a tendency to equate kwashiorkor metabolically solely with protein malnutrition, and to consider marasmus as purely calorie undernutrition. The more general term protein-calorie malnutrition has been considered in equally elementary terms. This over-simplification is dangerous if our work is to have any significance in terms of practical nutrition and the relief of human suffering. I fear this over-simplification could be the cause of controversy which might cloud the prospects of international cooperation in a field where it is of paramount importance. This topic is not a new one, it has been discussed before, but it is of such basic importance that I believe it would be profitable to consider it once again. In this paper I will consider some of the factors which may modify the biochemical response to malnutrition.


Biochemical Response Lactose Intolerance Protein Deficiency Malnourished Child Protein Malnutrition 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. G. Whitehead
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Dunn Nutrition LaboratoriesUniversity of Cambridge and the Medical Research CouncilCambridgeEngland
  2. 2.Child Nutrition Research UnitKampalaUganda

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