4 Signs of Urban Malnutrition You Need to Watch Out for in Your Child

Toddler, nutrition, childhood, malnutrition, growth

Did you know that children living in urban areas can be malnourished too? Discover 4 common toddler behaviours that could signal lack of nutrition, brought to you by Pediasure®, a complete and balanced nutritional supplement for catch-up growth.

Is Your Child Eating Enough?

Your son takes the last scoop of his rice, places his spoon on the table, leaving the fish and broccoli untouched.

Placing your fingers across your chest, you say to yourself: As long as he eats something and doesn’t go hungry, he’ll be fine.

Later that evening, your son slouches lazily in one corner watching all the other kids at the playground.

You wonder why he seems so lethargic. You recall that he did not finish his meal earlier on.

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How Do You Spot the Signs of Malnutrition in Your Toddler?

What is malnutrition? It happens when a child’s nutrient intake is too low or poorly balanced1. If your child eats very little, he or she is not meeting the body’s nutritional requirement to grow up optimally. At the other end of the spectrum, a child could be consuming too much junk food in place of nutritious food.

A recent UNICEF report revealed 20% of wasting (gradual loss of weight), 22% stunted (tendency to stop growing), and 15% underweight (insufficient weight) were found in children living in Kuala Lumpur2.

As a parent, you want your toddler to thrive with great nutrition. But how do you know if your child is malnourished, despite your best efforts? Did you know, apart from physical height and girth, behavioural changes can also be warning signs of malnutrition ? Anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, and cravings are common red flags you need to watch out for4 5.

1. Sugar Cravings

Does your child often sneak a candy bar from the kitchen? Will there be a meltdown if he or she doesn’t get a cookie? Do sugar cravings occur too often?

Eating too much sugar prevents magnesium and calcium absorption in the body . Research has shown in the absence of these two micronutrients, more sugar cravings occur7. Ironically, eating more sugar makes your child crave more sugar.

The takeaway isn’t to avoid sugar entirely, but to focus on nutrient-dense foods to ensure your child gets the right amount of micronutrients. Pediasure® contains the right amount of calcium and magnesium available in different flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, and honey.

toddlers, nutrition, growth, malnutrition

2. Anxiety8

Does your child refuse to get ready for school all of a sudden? Does he or she struggle to separate himself or herself from you9? Is your child feeling uncomfortable with people he or she is not familiar with?

Your child may be too young to cope with nerve-wrenching situations, and ongoing anxiety depletes nutrient reserves in the body10. He or she needs sufficient nutrients to produce the right balance of neurotransmitters to be calm and happy.

Eating the right diet is crucial. One of the most important nutrients is magnesium. Foods such as bananas, dark leafy greens, nuts, oily fish, or seeds are rich in magnesium11.

Pediasure® is a nutritional supplement that provides complete, balanced nutrition in supporting children’s physical and mind development.

Anxiety, toddlers, nutrition, growth, malnutrition

3. Mood Swings12

One minute your little one is fine – talking and playing normally; the next minute he or she starts yelling and talking back. You’re shocked that the radical mood shift (from 0 to 60) happens so fast without any warning.

Maybe your child is reacting to environmental changes in life. Did your family recently move to a new home? Is your child coping to a new member in the family? He or she may react differently to these changes, and will take time to adapt13. It’s possible that your child tries to express certain feelings to you, and you can’t decipher what he or she intends to tell you14.

Did you know, you can regulate his or her mood if you monitor what your child eats? The lack of Vitamin B12 interferes signal to and from your child’s brain15. Tuna, salmon, eggs are natural sources of vitamin B1216. Pediasure® has 25 essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B12 to fill your child’s nutritional gaps.

Mood swings, toddlers, nutrition, growth, malnutrition

4. Fatigue

Is your child tired all the time, even if he or she gets 11 to 12 hours of sleep? First, rule out the possibility that your child is down with a cold. Take your child’s temperature if he or she has fever. Ask your child if he or she is feeling body pains17. If your child is frequently tired for more than one or two weeks, he or she may suffer from fatigue issues18.

Having lack of certain nutrients could be the reason your child is often feeling tired. Dr. Anthony Komaroff, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a senior physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, explains that deficiencies of three minerals (iron, magnesium, potassium) and two vitamins (vitamin B12 and folic acid)19 can cause fatigue.

If your child, on the other hand, runs out of probiotics in the body that help in nutrient absorption20, he or she won’t be able to digest nutrients consumed, leading to poor immunity21.

Make sure your child eats the right combination of micronutrients through proper diet. Pediasure® is a complete and balanced nutritional supplement that contains probiotics such as Bifidobacterium lactis and L.acidophilus to boost children’s natural defence system22.

Fatigue, toddlers, nutrition, growth, malnutrition

“If a parent doesn’t realize that young children will eat when they’re hungry, this early feeding experience may foster an eating problem in the other child.”

— Howard J. Bennett, a Washington pediatrician and author of Max Archer, Kid Detective: The Case of the Recurring Stomachaches and other books for children

Happiness Is Where Nutrition Meets the Brain

Weeks from now, your son chews the last bite of the chicken fillet loudly and lets out a loud burp. This time, he finishes all the food on his plate without leaving a single morsel.

Your face beams in happiness as your son is getting the nutrition he needs for growth. Lately, he wakes up feeling energised and stays active throughout the day.

A happy child is often the result of a healthy body. It’s simple. Incorporate real, nutritious food in your child’s diet. Pediasure® contains 25 essential vitamins and minerals in achieving optimal child growth.

Children, toddler, growth, nutrition