When the majority of us think about weight problems in the United States, we immediately think about the huge problem with obesity this country faces. Sure, most of us have waged war with the belt before. And who hasn’t had to try to squeeze themselves into their favorite pair of jeans every now and then?
But what about those people with a different sort of weight problem? The ones who can’t seem to find anything to wear because everything hangs off of them? When you first think about it, it’s hard to fully digest how being underweight could be a problem since only about 8 percent of the country suffers from this weight problem. But believe it or not, being underweight is just as serious as being overweight, and it comes with its own set of health issues.
The definition of being underweight, scientifically speaking, has to do with your BMI or body mass index. People who are 20 and older who have a BMI of anything less than 20 are considered underweight. Anything less than 18.5, and you are in a health risk zone.
Now, we’re not just talking about having an eating disorder, but that is certainly one of the main causes of being underweight. Eating disorders affect millions of women every year and can even lead to death. But there are many other reasons why you could be underweight, and most can indicate other underlying serious medical conditions. Such diseases as cancer, hyperthyroidism, or HIV can present themselves with the inability to gain weight or sudden weight loss.
So even though you may feel great, being too skinny can lead to serious health complications. Some side effects of being underweight include a compromised immune system. Ever wonder why you tend to get sick more than most people? Being underweight means more than likely your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs to fight off infection.
Hair loss is another side effect of being underweight. Your hair is a growing part of your body that needs nourishment such as folic acid to grow healthy and strong. When you deny your body these nutrients, your hair will literally fall out and die.
Being underweight is also a problem if you are trying to conceive. It can lead to infertility or frequent miscarriages. Being underweight can actually cause your body to stop ovulating. Some women will have an infrequent or nonexistent menstrual cycle. And if you do manage to get pregnant, being underweight can adversely affect the baby as well.
There are many reasons for why you can’t seem to gain weight. If you think you might have a problem, don’t delay. See your doctor immediately.
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