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Malnutrition in Guatemala

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Submitted By greenme
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Green
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Professor Legg
Malnutrition in Guatemala Guatemala is a Country in Central America right underneath Mexico. Its true name is the Republic of Guatemala. Guatemala consists of many indigenous Mayan people. It has a very heavy Spanish influence. Mayans are called the indigenous people as opposed to the westernized Ladino’s that have European blood in them and usually live in a more urbanized areas. More than half the Guatemalan nation is composed of indigenous Mayan Indians. The national language is Spanish. The five main Mayan languages are Quichí, Mam, Qanjobal, Chol, and Yucateca (Nacie L., 2011). In addition to these five main languages there are 21 dialects that branch off of these
There are many factors that contribute to the extremely high rates of malnutrition in the country of Guatemala. Poverty, socioeconomic status, and education level all play a part. The disadvantaged Guatemalan is considered indigenous. Much racism goes on between indigenous and non-indigenous “Ladino’s.” Ladinos mainly rule the country (BBC, 2012). The amount of education is directly correlated with the amount of money made. The per capita GDP of Guatemala is $3,177 ranked 16 out of 19 in all of the Latin American Countries (Edwards, 2002). Guatemala has an approximate population of 14,027, 000. The life expectancy for men is 66 years old and for women 77 years old. Guatemala has the largest economy in Central America but it also has the lowest growth rates of human development (Edwards, 2002).
Fifty one percent of the population lives in poverty. The majority of people living in poverty reside in rural areas and make up seventy-one percent of the population in poverty. Of this poverty population sixty-eight percent are Mayan or indigenous people (Edwards, 2002). More indigenous people live in poverty and are malnourished. Many of the Mayan people of Guatemala lack a good education. Guatemala has the highest illiteracy rate in Latin America especially among women. Around thirty percent of the adult population has no formal school training. Fifty percent have primary school education. Fifteen percent have secondary school education and only about five percent have an education beyond secondary school. This lack of education limits them in where they can work what they can do. The lack of education also puts them at a disadvantage in understanding and knowing what is needed for proper nutrition in a diet. Almost half the children in Guatemala are malnutritioned. Women in Guatemala are leading in malnutrition out of all of the Latin American countries. Malnutrition starts in the womb. Pertaining to Guatemala if the mother is under the age of 18 years old she is more prone to be malnourished (The World Bank Group, 2011). This can cause the child to be mal nourished as well. Results of a malnourished mother are low birth weight for the baby, increased chances of infant mortality, increased chance of maternal mortality, maternal depletion where the mothers nutrients are taken from her bones in order to nourish the growing fetus (The World Bank Group, 2011). Growth stunting is more prominent as well when mothers are malnourished. Mothers who have children close in age are more likely to have children who are mal nourished. The mother is more susceptible to having maternal depletion and the children are more susceptible to transfer infections to one another. Children who are born with a low birth weight in Guatemala tend to have low Iron, low fat levels, and low Vitamin A (Jocotan, 2009). Around fifty-four percent of low birth weight children are malnourished when they get older (The World Bank Group, 2011).
Malnourishment in children can stunt growth which is measured by a child’s weight to height, age to height, and weight to age ratios. Breast feeding for too long can also affect a child’s nutrition. When a child is breast feed over the age of 12 months in rural areas in Guatemala the child does not get all the nutrients he/ she needs and becomes malnourished. This usually happens more in rural areas where the percentage of breast feeding mothers is higher.
Studies show that only about fifty percent of the population reaches the right amount of calories and micronutrients required every day (Jocotan, 2009). The general population has deficiencies in Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Iodine, and Iron. When it comes to malnutrition women seem to be affected the most. Guatemalan women have the highest rates of anemia in all of Latin America. Obesity is more prominent in women as opposed to men. The percentage of women who are obese in Guatemala compared to men is much higher. Twenty-six percent of women in Guatemala are obese the highest in all of Latin American women, compared to thirteen percent obesity in Guatemalan men (DevTech Systems, Inc, 2009).
Gender roles play a huge part in the prominence of malnutrition between men and women in Guatemala. Despite new laws in government protecting women’s rights in Guatemala, many women still take on the domestic role. Being a male dominated “Machista” society women take on the role of mother, wife, and homemaker (DevTech Systems, Inc, 2009). The male dominated society lets men control decisions at home, political decisions, as well as social and economic decisions (Luciak, 2001). Violence against women is more accepted here and women who are abused have the mentality that it is their job to endure it in order to be a good wife and mother (Luciak, 2001). Women have a very low literacy rate compared to men. The majority of women who live in rural areas of Guatemala do not speak Spanish. This can limit them in obtaining a decent paying job. Women tend to lack a good education which acts as a spiral effect. Lower education leads to lower paying jobs and smaller employment options. Only thirty-five percent of the Guatemalan women population work and most of these jobs are to supplement household income (Edwards, 2002).
Solutions for malnutrition in Guatemala has to start with educating the people in rural areas about the proper diet and nutrition needed. To reach the people in rural areas, a person with knowledge of the specific dialect spoken in that town or village would lead the education programs. The importance of good nutrition for mothers would have to be stressed. When the mothers are taken care of the children will have better nutrition as well. Information about proper nutrition while pregnant would be given to mothers. In addition, proper nutrition regarding women’s nutritional needs after birth and while breast feeding would be given. Education about children’s diet and nutrition would be given. Specific information regarding a child’s age and what their body requires would be included. Women do most the cooking and need to be informed that over eating is not healthy and does not mean you are getting all the proper nutrients your body needs. Preparing a meal with what your body needs is essential.
Once people are educated then the means to achieve a healthy diet are needed. The government of Guatemala has tried to fortify sugar and flour with additional nutrients lacking in everyday Guatemalan diets without success. Many people in rural areas farm. Part of the education process would be educating people about what plants they can grow and providing the seeds that are high in Iron, Vitamin A, and whatever other nutrients are lacking in their diet. Cook books could be provided to give examples of meals high in what the diet is lacking. Adult education programs would be provided to those lacking a primary and secondary education. Spanish literacy classes would be provided to help people be more successful while looking for a job. Classes educating men and women about how to handle anger or violence in a relationship would be provided. The method of setting up schools and education sessions is the right way to go because it would empower the people considered disadvantaged. It would target those who are in need the most on a more personal one on one basis.
Some barriers that could slow the implementation of this plan would be gaining the trust of the people in rural areas. Many may think that the education program would be trying to change their way of life. The indigenous Mayans may feel as though they are being pressured into being more like the urban Ladino’s. In order to overcome these barriers I would get as many indigenous people involved as I could and have them help train and talk to others. The stress of bettering their community and people would be focused on. The more they are educated the better lives their children can have as well as future generations around them. The better educated the indigenous population is the more chances they have in being leaders in the government.

Bibliography
Luciak, I. A. (2001). After the revolution: Gender and democracy in el salvador, nicaragua, and guatemala. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=z-xsoyt2upIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR11&dq=guatemala gender roles&ots=6-v8W1hmGi&sig=yRBGppmerI27f3q_1ESfz4i9WMQ
DevTech Systems, Inc. USAID, STTA&T project. (2009). Gender assessment usaid/guatemalaUSAID.
Edwards, J. (2002). Education and poverty in guatemala. GUATEMALA POVERTY ASSESSMENT (GUAPA) PROGRAM TECHNICAL PAPER NO. 3, 11. Retrieved from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2006/05/26/000090341_20060526103607/Rendered/PDF/362040GU0GUAPA0Education1Paper301PUBLIC1.pdf
World Health Organization. (2001, 05 12). Water sanitation and health: Water-related diseases. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/diseases/malnutrition/en/
The World Bank Group. (2011). The world bank. Retrieved from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/LACEXT/0,,contentMDK:21161481~pagePK:146736~piPK:64909335~theSitePK:258554,00.html
Jocotan. (2009, August 27). The economist. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/node/14313735
Kriel, L. (2011, June 28). Addressing chronic malnutrition in guatemala. . Retrieved from http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/global-pulse/addressing-chronic-malnutrition-guatemala
BBC. (2012, 15 01). Bbc news. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1215758.stm
Nacie L., G. (2011). Countries and their cultures. Retrieved from http://www.everyculture.com/Ge-It/Guatemala.html
Marini, A., & Gragnolati, M. (2003). Malnutrition and poverty in guatemala. The World Bank. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=teoLnrgQVkwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA22&dq=Malnutrition and poverty in Guatemala&ots=SPVDIXD2K-&sig=nINza0UuY2jFO032iP3Hab56Sbo

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