You may have noticed in today’s world that people pay a lot of attention to being overweight or obese and its resulting health complications. On the other hand, being underweight also has its share in causing health risks.
So if you are underweight, you might want to explore its health risks and get insights on how to add a few kilograms to achieve a healthy weight and thereby a healthier you!
How do you know if you’re underweight? You can find out if you are underweight using a simple calculation to determine your body mass index or (BMI). This can be easily done by dividing your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in metres squared) as indicated below:
BMI (kg/m²) = Weight in kilograms ÷ Height in metres²\
As a matter of fact, BMI is used as a screening tool to identify whether you are underweight, overweight or at a healthy weight. Quite simply, a BMI value less than 18.5 means that you are underweight.
Who is at risk and why? Women and teens are the two main groups especially at risk of being underweight. While underweight women will struggle with fertility issues, underweight teens are at a critical stage of growth and development, increasing the chances of future health problems.
The are many serious health risks to being underweight, mainly:
- Infertility: Underweight women primarily have problems with their ability to stay fertile. In fact being underweight causes a disturbance in the hormones which leads to ovulatory dysfunction and thus infertility.
- Anemia: Because of a low food intake, underweight women could become anemic, thereby reducing the ability of their blood to carry oxygen to body cells. This can eventually lead to a variety of symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, pale complexion, reduced concentration and lethargy.
- Osteoporosis: The risk of osteoporosis is higher for underweight women because of less than optimal intake of calcium which results in lower bone density. This problem is more predominant in teenagers, because they are at a stage when they experience the maximum depositition of calcium in their bones. And being underweight might disrupt this mechanism, resulting in lower deposits of minerals in their bones thereby increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Amenorrhea (cessation of menstrual cycles): This is also more prevalent in underweight teens because they might have a disturbance in their hormones, a decrease in their fat deposits, combined with anxiety that might lead to loss of their menstrual cycle.
But that’s not all. Other health complications might include delayed puberty in teens, negative body image, fatigue, increased susceptibility to infection, irregular heartbeats and depression.
What you can do for a healthy increase in weight? The simplest way is to have 3 meals a day along with 2-3 snacks. Make sure to include different food groups in your diet to achieve a healthy and balanced intake. Additionally, you should stay away from soft drinks and sugary foods. Instead switch to foods that are high in nutrition such as smoothies, dried fruits and nuts.If you are an underweight teen, you could also have a snack at bedtime because growth hormones are highest during early sleep. And don’t forget to exercise and increase your physical activity. This might help boost your metabolism and stimulate your appetite!
Last word Remember that genetics plays an important role in determining our shapes and figures! However, this doesn't mean that you should give up and stop trying to achieve a healthy weight. In fact it means that you should try a little harder to maintain a healthy body. You can always consult with a dietitian to determine your healthy weight range and work out a meal plan created to suit your specific needs.