E-mail article Print article Although it is fashionable to reduce weight, it can also be harmful IF several fat people are fighting to lose weight, it is easy to assume that the slender are safe. Most people associate underweight with children yet it is common to find many adults underweight and not bothered. In recent times, a number of people will tell you that slender people are fit and well. For a long time obesity has been an issue and countless remedies have been stamped in all sorts of places beckoning those in need of a trendy constitution. Contrary to the trendy notion, nutritionists say being excessively slender carries its own health hazards. According to Gloria Kirungi, a nutritionist with Mildmay Uganda, this chronic condition (underweight) affects productivity and household food commodity bundle. Kirungi says: A person is underweight when they have low weight for height. What is worrying is the fact that if not dealt with, underweight can swing from one stage to another. Mild underweight 17.5-18.4 Kg/m2, moderate underweight 16.5-17.4 Kg/m2, severe underweight 16.4 kg/m2. Research has shown that the most common cause of underweight is malnutrition. However, in the presence of adequate food, there are other reasons that explain why some people are underweight. The immediate causes of underweight are diseases and inadequate food intake. Disease affects nutrient utilisation, absorption and digestion. It causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain and loss of appetite, which reduces ones food intake. It further increases or reduces enzyme secretion which increases or reduces digestion, metabolism and increases nutrient loss. Certain medications, for example for cancer or underlying medical conditions can lead to one being underweight. Medication affects nutrient utilisation. It affects food consu Kirungi also says certain foods create unhealthy side effects. Food affects medical efficacy. For example, high fat meals increase or decrease bio-availability of certain drugs like efivarenz and indinavir while garlic reduces absorption of ARV-Saquinavir. Some people are naturally thinner than others and the reason for this may be because they eat little or burn more calories. Kirungi says once the energy expenditure exceeds the energy intake, a person becomes underweight. People who want to fit the norm aspire to look small by design, not nature. Such people take measures to gain the desired size. They deliberately eat little and exercise excessively all in an effort to cut their weight. This, according to nutritionists, gives way to a condition called anorexia. People suffering from this condition are severely underweight which is the most dreaded stage and if not dealt with, can have grave complications like heart, lung and fertility problems. In women, underweight can lead to a condition known as amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) and a possibility of encountering complications during pregnancy. Being underweight can also lead to osteoporosis which is normally associated with the old, but young people too stand a risk if they do not pay attention to their weight. Extremely underweight people have physical stamina issues and their immune system is normally weak. Kirungi says this increases susceptibility to diseases like bone thinning, muscle wasting and micro-nutrient deficiencies (anaemia), hence a high rate of morbidity and mortality. Underweight lowers the rate of healing, growth and development. An individual does not attain full potential mentally, physically and emotionally hence low productivity level. Abrupt or unexplained weight loss can be a sign of a health risk. People whose weight has presented risky conditions should work at attaining a normal size (above 18.5 BMI). How to deal with it Education on good nutrition helps curb the problem. It is important to encourage proper feeding habits, Kirungi says. The sufferer should eat a healthy diet which contains minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and all other minor constituents. Besides, one should increase the food intake so that more food energy is consumed than is used. For those bodies which burn more calories, consumption of adequate calories can resolve the issue. If the low weight is triggered by a disease, you should seek medical attention. Today, a lot of underweight people are self induced since the trend preaches slender is slick. If it presents danger to you, you should adhere to a healthy diet in order to recover from that condition. However, it is advisable for those that are severely under weight to seek medical attention. When did you last take a weight measurement? One should monitor their weight every six months and get proper interventions where necessary. How to tell you are the right weight Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. To find out the BMI, one has to use the formula, weight in kilograms divide by height in metres. Any BMI that is below 18.5 is an indication that one is underweight. The normal BMI range is between 18.5-24.9kg/m2.