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Malnourishment: Eating Habits

The information provided in the proposed case study is insufficient to draw accurate conclusions and propose effective solutions to address Rick’s malnutrition problem. As additional data to obtain from his mother, one should inquire about whether the child has chronic diseases or other health problems. According to Adamson and Morawska (2017), eating problems in young children may be caused by illnesses or congenital disorders that affect their eating behavior. In addition, the information about the specifics of the food given to the boy can help make a comprehensive assessment. Based on his mother’s report, Rick is frustrated with any meal. As Kowal-Connelly (2020) notes, children’s eating habits are formed during the first two years of life. Therefore, after receiving this information, one can conclude what has contributed to the child’s refusal to eat properly.

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One of the main questions to ask Rick’s mother is whether she gives him fast food and sugary drinks or not. Kowal-Connelly (2020) states that childhood addiction to sugary beverages and junk food is a problem that manifests itself in the unwillingness to eat healthy foods. If Rick often drinks soda and knows the taste of pizza or burgers, this may explain his reluctance to eat healthily. Another question to ask the boy’s mother is how their usual meal is going. According to her, she and her husband, Rick’s father, work full-time. This means that the family is not together most of the time, and dinner may be the only meal where they meet. Consequently, if both parents demonstrated healthy eating habits to their children, problems might not arise. Therefore, Rick’s mother should be explained how her son eats when his parents are absent.

The distance of the extended family influence this family’s approach to health promotion negatively due to the parents’ inability to monitor their children regularly, including their eating habits. Since Rick’s mother and father work full-time, they have to leave both children either in kindergarten or with a nanny. Adamson and Morawska (2017) remark that the presence of both parents at meals contributes to a more successful food culture inculcation. Since their relatives are far away, they are not able to spend time with the children and tell their parents the truth about what Rick and his sister have eaten during the day. The fact that the daughter requires her mother to spoon-feed proves that the adults did not participate in stimulating her nutritional interest timely. Thus, the distance of the extended family does not allow Rick’s mother and father to rely on loved ones to control the nutrition of their son and daughter.

To determine whether malnourishment is a factor in this family, one should find out detailed health information not only from Rick’s parents but also from close relatives. If there are no confirmed cases of nutritional problems in the family, congenital disorders can be excluded. Another valuable factor is the parents’ knowledge of the principles of healthy nutrition. According to Rahayuwati et al. (2019), adults’ education level often plays a significant role in shaping children’s eating habits. If Rick’s father and mother know what and how much their children should eat, this is a factor to rule out potential food illiteracy. Therefore, in the absence of obvious health problems, malnourishment is hardly worth diagnosing since the four-year-old boy’s eating habits can be changed and adapted to a healthier diet.


Adamson, M., & Morawska, A. (2017). Early feeding, child behaviour and parenting as correlates of problem eating. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26(11), 3167-3178.

Kowal-Connelly, S. (2020). How children develop unhealthy food preferences. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Rahayuwati, L., Nurhidayah, I., Hidayati, N. O., Hendrawati, S., Agustina, H. S., & Ekawati, R. (2019). Analysis of factor affecting nutrition status on children. Padjadjaran Nursing Journal, 7(2), 117-131.

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