# Wasting

## Overview

Wasting is also useless spending.

In medical circles, wasting refers to the process by which a debilitating disease causes muscle and fat tissue to "waste" away. Wasting is sometimes referred to as "acute malnutrition" because it is believed that episodes of wasting have a short duration, in contrast to stunting, which is regarded as chronic malnutrition.

## Causes

Wasting can be caused by an extremely low energy intake (e.g., caused by famine), nutrient losses due to infection, or a combination of low intake and high loss. Infections associated with wasting include tuberculosis, chronic diarrhea, and AIDS. The mechanism may involve cachectin - also called tumor necrosis factor, a macrophage-secreted cytokine. Caretakers and health providers sometimes contribute to wasting by putting the patient on a very restrictive diet. Voluntary weight loss and eating disorders are excluded as causes of wasting.

## Classification

• Children: Weight-for-height (WFH). In infants under 24 months, recumbent (supine) length is used. WFH as % of median reference value is calculated this way:
${\displaystyle \mathrm {WFH} ={\frac {\mbox{weight of a given child}}{\mbox{median weight for a given child of that height}}}\times 100}$

Cutoff points may vary, but <80% (close to -2 Z-score) is often used.