The Dangers Of Being Underweight

Being underweight can represent as many health concerns to an individual as being overweight can. If a person is underweight, their body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to build healthy bones, skin, and hair.

While some people may have a genetic background or a medical illness that prevents them from putting on weight, there are interventions doctors can recommend to help a person gain weight.

In this article, we look at ways to tell if you are underweight, causes, treatments, and when to see a doctor.

When is a person underweight?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people use a body mass index (BMI) to calculate if they are underweight, at a healthy weight, or overweight.

Using the BMI is considered a good measure of a person’s weight because it compares their weight to their height. For example, a 170-pound person may not be overweight if they are very tall but could be overweight if they are very short.

A person can calculate their BMI by visiting the CDC’s Adult BMI Calculator. Ranges for BMI include:

  • Underweight: less than 18.5
  • Normal/healthy weight: 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight: 25.0 to 29.9
  • Obese: 30 or higher

These calculations may be slightly inaccurate for a person who is an elite or endurance athlete whose body has a significant amount of muscle. This is because muscle weighs more than fat.

Risks of being underweight

Being underweight can cause health problems, just as being overweight can.

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