A Closer Look At Underweight Problems
We don't hear nearly as much about underweight problems as we do about overweight problems. Most people are aware of the consequences of being overweight, but ask someone to identify the more common underweight problems and that person will likely be unable to do so.
Being underweight, like being overweight, is of course a subjective term. To some, weighing more than 5 pounds above normal is considered as being overweight, to others, being overweight is more often associated with gross obesity. Similarly, an underweight person could be someone who "could stand putting a few pounds on", someone who is "as skinny as a rail", or someone who "looks like a walking skeleton". The first two descriptions don't necessary carry a connotation of being in poor health due to underweight problems, while the "walking skeleton” description usually does.
BMI Tells The Tale - We don't have to be skin and bones of course to suffer from one or more underweight problems, whether the inadequate weight is due to an underlying problem or the cause of a problem. A person who is considered to carry a healthy weight has a body mass index (BMI) that falls within a certain range. Your BMI is a function of your height, age, weight, sex, and general build. Since these are things you know or can easily measure, it's not too hard to determine what your BMI is. Conversely, given what range your BMI should be in will tell you what your weight range should be, and if you are either overweight or underweight.
Most of those who use the BMI charts focus on the upper limit, since they are mostly worried about being overweight, the number. A reading 15% lower than the lower limit however, is usually taken as the standard for being underweight. In terms of weight, if your weight should be between 120 and 130 pounds, anything below 105 pounds would be considered underweight, and considered unhealthy.
Underweight Problems - The more prominent underweight problems focus on the immune system as well as the skeletal-muscular system. Those who are significantly underweight often find they have difficulty in fighting off infection, are more prone to bone disorders, especially osteoporosis, and experience general muscular weakness. The well-known example of the "97 pound weakling" has some merit. In addition, those who are overly thin do not have the amount of insulating body fat the average person does, and as such can experience difficulty in maintaining or regulating their body temperature. While slenderness and being thin is generally associated with good health and a longer life, a person who is grossly underweight has a much higher risk of dying than does the average person.
Preventable Problems - Underweight problems that are preventable should be understood by anyone wanting to be extra slender or thin, since things can often all too easily get out of hand. Some people happen to have a metabolism that makes it difficult to put on pounds, and they may well carry a weight that the charts say is too low. These people, if they eat a healthy diet, usually don't have an underweight problem beyond possibly being concerned about their appearance.
Problems Beyond One's Control - Others are underweight due to certain disorders, and may have difficulty to attain a healthy weight, or find it impossible, unless the disorder can be effectively treated or cured. A wasting disease, such as tuberculosis, can cause one to become seriously underweight, as can hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, and one of many kinds of digestive tract disorders.
If you weigh just a few pounds less than what the charts indicate you should weigh, your weight could still be perfectly fine for all intents and purposes. In any event, the BMI police won't try to track you down. If you weigh significantly less than what you should, say by 20%, it may well pay dividends to try to discover why that is, and what you might wish to do about it.