Protein-energy malnutrition: a risk factor for various ailments

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2015;55(2):242-53. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.651543.


The wheel of industrialization that spun throughout the last century resulted in urbanization coupled with modifications in lifestyles and dietary habits. However, the communities living in developing economies are facing many problems related to their diet and health. Amongst, the prevalence of nutritional problems especially protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) and micronutrients deficiencies are the rising issues. Moreover, the immunity or susceptibility to infect-parasitic diseases is also directly linked with the nutritional status of the host. Likewise, disease-related malnutrition that includes an inflammatory component is commonly observed in clinical practice thus affecting the quality of life. The PEM is treatable but early detection is a key for its appropriate management. However, controlling the menace of PEM requires an aggressive partnership between the physician and the dietitian. This review mainly attempts to describe the pathophysiology, prevalence and consequences of PEM and aims to highlight the importance of this clinical syndrome and the recent growth in our understanding of the processes behind its development. Some management strategies/remedies to overcome PEM are also the limelight of the article. In the nutshell, early recognition, prompt management, and robust follow up are critical for best outcomes in preventing and treating PEM.

Keywords: Protein–energy malnutrition; ailments; developing countries; innovations; remedies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Micronutrients / deficiency
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Status
  • Parasitic Diseases / immunology
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / complications*
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / diagnosis
  • Protein-Energy Malnutrition / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Micronutrients
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I