• Although most health concerns revolve around excess weight and obesity, being underweight is also associated with definite health risks, such as malnutrition and poor growth. Low body weight is easy to identify with a simple calculation.


    Being underweight, or having low body weight, is a health risk that should be discussed with a doctor or health professional to ensure adequate nutrition.


    When body weight is insufficient to provide for the body's needs, ill effects can result. They range from malnutrition from lack of adequate vitamins and proteins, to poor immune response, to increased risk of osteoporosis, to inability to conceive or have regular menstruation.


    According to the Centers for Disease Control, the underweight designation is most accurately applied when height and weight are considered by using the body mass index (BMI). A BMI of less than 18.5 indicates a body weight that is too low.


    Gaining weight to achieve a normal-weight BMI by eating high-fat or high-cholesterol foods is not the best method to improve low body weight. A dietitian can help develop a plan that includes healthy options and the correct calorie amount to increase weight and improve health.

    Time Frame

    As with people who attempt to lose weight by dieting, results of attempts to increase weight from an underweight BMI to normal levels can take months of continued effort. Gradual weight increase is the healthiest option.


    Underweight Q&A

    About BMI for Adults


    Body Mass Index Table

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