by Marcus Cimino

I bet you guys were “starving” for another post, huh? Well today, we’ll talk about a condition that affects people who are actually starving: marasmus.

So what is it? In a nutshell, it is a type of undernourishment where a person is not getting enough calories in general. This is not to be confused by kwashiorkor which is mainly a lack of protein.

How do you tell those two apart? Well you should focus on the stomach as a child with kwashiorkor has a distended stomach.


Another big difference is that marasmus starts before 1 year of age while kwashiorkor starts after 18 months.

In addition to the physical characteristics above, the person will be fretful, irritable and extremely hungry. The mortality rate in these patients is higher when experiencing an illness or injury. Yet, compared to kwashiorkor, the survival rate is higher.

So what does this have to do with south park? Well in season 1, the boys of south park encounter Marvin, an Ethiopian. They get to know Marvin and a very little about Ethiopia. See the link below for the happy ending!


So in short: Marvin is starvin’ because he has marasmus. He appeared in Southpark before season 1 was complete and marasmus occurs most often before a person is 1 year old. He is extremely hungry and fretful. It’s probably best if he doesn’t get sick or injured.

Interesting note: The rate of marasmus is not that high in Ethiopia. It is actually highest in Mali and Angola.

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