B1 - Diet Problems

Understanding this part of B1 is essential for your biology GCSE.

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Kwashiorkor is a condition caused by protein deficiency. It is most commonly seen in developing countries, where overpopulation means that the demand for protein is higher than the supply of it. Often, there isn't enough money invested in agriculture, and so it's difficult to produce enough protein-rich food.

A common symptom of kwashiorkor is a swollen stomach, and this is a tell-tale sign that someone is suffering from this kind of malnutrition.

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E.A.R stands for Estimated Average daily Requirement of protein. However, it is just an estimate and varies according to age and health. For example, pregnant women would need more protein for the baby's growth, and children and teenagers would need more protein for their own growth.

In an exam, you will probably be asked to calculate someone's E.A.R. You may not be given the formula, but even if you are, you should practise using it. You can see the formula below.

E.A.R (g) = 0.6 x body mass (kg)

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Eating Disorders

Psychological disorders can also cause malnutrition, so you need to know about these too.

Anorexia nervosa is the act of self-starvation. This leads to a poor diet and severe malnutrition.

Bulimia nervosa involves both binge eating and self-induced vomiting. This leads to malnutrition, poor diet and tooth decay due to the acid in the vomit.

These disorders can lead to other illnesses, like liver failure, kidney damage, heart attack, low blood pressure, and mineral deficiencies. Both can be fatal.

These disorders are caused by low self-esteem and a belief that they need to be "perfect". It is sad that these conditions occur, but you need to learn about them.

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BMI (Body Mass Index)

BMI is used as a guide for telling if someone is the average weight, underweight or overweight.

To work out BMI, the formula is below:

BMI = body mass (kg) / height (m) squared.


BMI isn't always reliable. This is because someone could have a lot of muscle and hardly any fat, but still have a high BMI because muscle is heavy. This means that their BMI would say they were overweight, when they're not.

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