Read these 11 Health Risks of Being Underweight Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Weight Gain tips and hundreds of other topics.
Infertility is an issue many underweight women face. Women that have suffered from an eating disorder, or who exercise a great deal may experience a cessation of menstruation, otherwise known as amenorrhea, but there can be some long term consequences that will effect fertility. For instance, being underweight is also associated with dysfunctional ovulation which can impede pregnancy. Going on a weight gain diet in these cases almost always improved the chances of the woman getting pregnant. A woman must have a certain amount of body fat to sustain a healthy and growing baby, so any woman who is underweight should try to establish a diet that is highly nutritious and will help her maintain and gain weight throughout a pregnancy.
Many people are underweight for a variety of reasons: high metabolism, skipping meals, eating on the run, illness, injury, active lifestyles, stress, eating the wrong foods and not having enough nutrition. Some of these reasons raise no concerns, but there are health risks in being underweight. Losing weight due to illness, stress, skipping meals or not having sufficient nutrition are all issues. In these situations people set themselves up for further problems down the line by not maintaining a healthy weight and a balanced diet.
If your child is underweight, or on the cusp of being underweight, it would be indicated by a body mass index that is lower than the 5th percentile for the child's age. There are some health risks of being underweight. In many cases, being slightly underweight can be perfectly normal, especially if your child has recently gone through a growth spurt, eats healthy foods, and is normally active. Being underweight can also signal a problem and deserves medical consideration if your child is not gaining weight or has recently lost noticeable weight, has diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite, or a low energy level. Children can be at risk for developing eating disorders, especially if your child has a poor self body image, seems to exercise a great deal, has stopped having periods (amenorrhea), or is using laxatives to help lose weight. Additionally, children and adolescents who experience a sudden weight loss may be showing symptoms of Diabetes Type 1. Weight gain diets for children should be closely monitored by both parent and doctor to ensure maximum nutrition and growth.
Type 1 Diabetes is a condition where the body does not produce enough insulin. You need insulin to process sugars, which is the most basic fuel for human cells. One of the signals of the onset of Type 1 Diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes is a sudden weight loss. If your child has just recently lost weight, you should have him or her screened to diabetes.
Anemia is a health risk of being underweight and is characterized by a lower number than normal of red blood cells. It is usually measured by a decrease in the amount of hemoglobin which is the red pigment in red blood cells that transports oxygen. Anemia can be caused by nutritional deficits common in people who are underweight and not eating a balanced diet rich in iron. Some symptoms of anemia are fatigue, pain in the chest and shortness of breath. If you are suffering from anemia, you should focus on a weight gain diet rich in nutrients and eat a lot of leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach.
The easiest way to determine if you are underweight according to the typical standards used today is to calculate your body mass index. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), BMI corresponds to body fat so women tend to have higher BMI's than men and elderly people often have more fat than young people who are more active. There are different scales for adolescents and children, so do not use the following calculation to determine the BMI for your teenager or small child. To calculate your body mass, you divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and then multiply the result by 703. The weight status according to BMI is as follows: Below 18.5 = Underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 = Normal, 25.0 to 29.9 = Overweight, 30.0 and Above = Obese.
Vitamin deficiency and being underweight can affect the effectiveness of your immune system. For instance, if you do not get enough vitamin D your body won't be able to metabolize calcium and you can get a disease like rickets. If you do not get enough vitamin C you can get scurvy. If you do not get enough iron you get anemia. Nutrition is very important to your immune system and even if you are only have minor deficiencies you can suffer from illnesses that won't go away and from fatigue. You should avoid being undernourished and underweight by using weight gain supplements or calorie supplements.
If you are underweight, you need to think about the risk you are posing to your own health. You increase your likelihood to have osteoporosis and the effectiveness of your immune system may be decreased. In women, you may lose your period or have irregularities and you may have problems with infertility. Maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet can help alleviate these problems.
Osteoporosis is a common side effect of being underweight. Osteoporosis, which means porous bones, is a disease that causes bones to become fragile and to break. In most people, the bone breaks occur in the hips, spine and wrist. Osteoporosis is caused by not ingesting sufficient calcium, not getting enough exercise, insufficient vitamin D, alcohol abuse and smoking. A balanced diet, with plenty of calcium will help prevent osteoporosis.
As an older person, you may not be paying as much attention to your weight, but it can have a major effect on your lifestyle if it becomes a problem. If you are underweight, you may be experiencing symptoms such as poor memory, increased colds and flu due to a less effective immune system, osteoporosis, decreased muscle strength and hypothermia. If you have experienced a sudden weight loss, you should consult with your physician. If the loss has been more gradual, and you don't have the resources to increase your caloric intake for weight gain, approach your physician as well, or a local food bank. Ask for help, you'll be glad you did.
Eating disorders create underweight patients who may suffer from a myriad of problems. These conditions are extreme because their disease is about controlling what they ingest and how much they weigh. Anorexics frequently damage heart, liver and kidneys by not eating enough. They can also lose their hair, experience muscle weakness and joint pain, ultimately, some people have even starved themselves to death. Because Bulimia is about binging and purging, bulimics may have stomach damage from vomiting and damage to the teeth and throat. Most damaging is the potential loss of potassium from constant vomiting that can lead to heart failure, brain damage and death.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|