Nutrition is the set of processes by which a living being processes food for its functioning. On the one hand, physiology deals with how the body processes food, from ingestion to metabolism. It studies balance or imbalance between energy and absorbed nutrients and needs of body.
On the other hand, nutrition analyzes the eating behavior of individual or group by addressing food according to environmental factors, health policies, food availability and accessibility.
WHO defines nutrition as food intake that meets needs of body
Well nutrition – an adapted and balanced diet – and exercise are all health benefits. On the contrary, poor nutrition can result in weakened immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, delayed physical and mental development, and decreased productivity.
Thus, malnutrition recuts “deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s energy and / or nutritional intake”.
This term covers 3 major groups of conditions:
- undernutrition, which includes emaciation (low weight / height ratio), stunting (low height-to-age ratio) and underweight (low weight-for-age ratio); People suffering from undernutrition, and children in particular, present significant risks of illness or death.
- micronutrient malnutrition, deficiency or excess, often in terms of iodine, vitamin A and iron. These deficiencies are a major threat to health and negatively affect the development of people around the world.
- overweight, obesity and noncommunicable food-related diseases (diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc.). These conditions related to undernutrition or to poor nutrition (consumption of caloric products that are too fat or sweet) have harmful consequences on physical activity and are serious risk factors for health.
Codex Alimentarius is the joint program of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) consisting of a compendium of standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations related to food production. It focuses on food safety, namely protection of consumers and food chain workers, and preservation of the environment.
Nutrients are defined in the general principles of Codex (CAC / GL 09 – 1987): any substance normally consumed as a constituent of a food that provides energy; or that is necessary for the growth, development and maintenance of healthy life; or in absence of which there are characteristic biochemical or physiological alterations. In addition, an essential nutrient is any substance normally consumed as a constituent of a food that is necessary for growth, development and maintenance of a healthy life and that can not be synthesized in sufficient quantities by body.
For each nutrient, there are levels considered as minimum (defined by FAO) for well development and well physical and mental functioning of human.
A deficiency is a lack compared to this threshold.
Food security is defined by FAO as follows: “Food security exists when all human beings have, at all times, physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Enabling them to meet their energy needs and dietary preferences for a healthy and active life. “