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What Is over-Nutrition?

By Felicia Dye
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Over-nutrition refers to a situation where the body is in a malnourished state. This type of malnutrition is not caused by a deficiency, but instead results from excessive consumption of calories or one or more nutrients. Over-nutrition develops over time and can have a number of negative effects, including the development of vascular diseases, morbid obesity, or vitamin poisoning.

Nutrition is a process that involves giving the body the proper amount of nutrients for healthy growth and maintenance. Proper nutrition also involves consuming calories that are proportionate to the amount that will be burned through daily activities and exercise. It is widely understood that when the body does not receive adequate amounts of nutrients or calories that a person can get sick. Fewer people realize, however, that excessive nutrients and calories can also result in medical problems. Such an excess is referred to as over-nutrition.

When over-nutrition results from the intake of too many calories, the result is often obesity or morbid obesity. When a person is significantly overweight, she may be considered obese. An even worse condition, however, is morbid obesity, which is diagnosed when excessive weight meets certain qualifications. Morbid obesity can cause a person to be plagued with a wide range of life-threatening conditions.

Eating is not always the source of over-nutrition. Some people create this problem by taking too many vitamin or mineral supplements. The body requires only a certain amount of these nutrients, and in many cases the requirement is very small.

It is generally recommended that people obtain nutrients through their diets, but many people do not eat properly. Furthermore, the popularity of alternative medicine and the drive to preserve youth and vitality motivate people to take supplements, which are readily available. The result in some cases is vitamin poisoning, a condition where the body stores too much of a nutrient.

Just as starvation, or under-nutrition, is a major problem in developing countries, over-nutrition is a major public health issue in many developed countries. Several factors are believed to contribute to this, including the abundance of processed food, greater availability of food, and low activity levels.

Under-nutrition and over-nutrition may not be totally unrelated conditions that occur in different places or even in different people. One research team found that under-nourishment in a child can prompt the body to adapt in a manner where each calorie is exploited to the maximum degree. When that child becomes an adult and lives in better economic circumstances, her body's survival strategy results in over-nutrition. This happens because her body is not accustomed to properly processing an adequate amount of nutrients and calories, and as a result she experiences weight gain from a normal diet.

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Discussion Comments

By Swingerzetta — On Mar 18, 2014

I have a coworker who drinks up to two Emergen-C's a day. That is definitely over-nutrition. I understand to try and do these things when you're sick and clearly vitamin deficient, but I don't understand this idea that over-supplementing yourself is going to keep you healthier. Like in everything, moderation is key.

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