ZocdocAnswersCan being underweight do just as much damage as being overweight?

Question

Can being underweight do just as much damage as being overweight?

I'm a 21 year old female, 5'9?. I'm around 115 pounds. My husband thinks that I am too skinny and that I will get sick because of it. Can being underweight be dangerous in the same way that being overweight can?

Answer

In extreme circumstances, being underweight can be just as damaging if not more than being overweight. In your case, I am not really worried about your current weight, assuming that you have not recently lost a large percentage of your body weight. We gauge a persons weight by their body mass index. This is a method used to decide if a certain weight is appropriate for someone given their height. Your body mass index calculates out to almost exactly 17. This is consider slightly underweight. In general, we consider body mass indexes between 15 and 19 to be underweight, 20-25 to be normal. Anything above 25 is considered overweight and anything over 30 is considered obese. When someones body mass index declines to below 15, I begin to get really worried that their body is being harmed. In addition, I get really worried if I have a patient with a body mass index less than 20 that is dieting. This is a sign of potential anorexia. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take you current weight into the context of you general body type and what your weight was in the past. Your doctor will likely be comfortable with your weight as long as there are no plans to lose any of it.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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