Malnutrition occurs when an organism gets too few or too many nutrients, resulting in health problems. Specifically, it is "a deficiency, excess, or imbalance of energy, protein and other nutrients" which adversely affects the body's tissues and form.
Malnutrition is a category of diseases that includes undernutrition and overnutrition. Undernutrition is a lack of nutrients, which can result in stunted growth, wasting, and underweight. A surplus of nutrients causes overnutrition, which can result in obesity. In some developing countries, overnutrition in the form of obesity is beginning to appear within the same communities as undernutrition.
Most clinical studies use the term 'malnutrition' to refer to undernutrition. However, the use of 'malnutrition' instead of 'undernutrition' makes it impossible to distinguish between undernutrition and overnutrition, a less acknowledged form of malnutrition. Accordingly, a 2019 report by The Lancet Commission suggested expanding the definition of malnutrition to include "all its forms, including obesity, undernutrition, and other dietary risks." The World Health Organization and The Lancet Commission have also identified "[t]he double burden of malnutrition," which occurs from "the coexistence of overnutrition (overweight and obesity) alongside undernutrition (stunted growth and wasting)."