How can I tell if I am underweight?

Underweight: When is a body too thin?

Intensive sports units, diets and calorie counting: for many people, no road is too rocky for a slim body. It is dispensed with, weighed and sweated. But when does the desire for the supposed ideal weight become critical to health? And when is thin too thin? Underweight Facts To Know About.

Depending on gender, height, body weight and activity level, everyone has a very personal daily need for calories. If you take in less, the body loses weight. But many do not stop at their ideal weight, but eat too little over the long term.

A starving body panic

Then the weight quickly becomes dangerously low. In the worst case, the body will eventually lack the energy it needs to maintain all important body functions. Put on the alert, he shuts down his metabolism. And your health will feel it. But when does the scale show too little?

"A globally recognized calculation formula for classifying weight is the body mass index (BMI). The values ​​are based on empirical studies that have determined when too high or too low a weight is associated with risks for the body" explains Dr. Walburga Wünsch-Leiteritz from the board of the Federal Association of Eating Disorders (BFE) and senior physician of the competence center for eating disorders at the Lüneburger Heide clinic.

You shouldn't go below this BMI value

The BMI is calculated as follows: (Body weight): (height) ². A BMI between 18.5 and 24 is considered a healthy weight for adult women. A BMI between 19 and 25 is considered normal for men. "As soon as the weight falls below these values, doctors speak of underweight. Values ​​below 17.5 are considered anorectic in women and men," says the nutritionist. This means that the person affected has a weight that is typical of anorexia nervosa.

According to the expert, using the BMI alone as a measuring instrument is not sufficient. The muscle percentage in the body should also be taken into account. In addition, weight must always be viewed in connection with eating behavior and health. "It does not depend on a measured value alone. It depends on the course, that is, on the eating behavior that is maintained over a longer period of time. Everything together shows whether there is a need for action," says Wünsch-Leiteritz.

The Federal Center for Health Education offers people with eating disorders and concerned relatives at various advice and information on treatment options.

These are the consequences of too little body weight

It clearly signals that the body is struggling with a weight that is too low: muscles are reduced, one often feels mentally stronger at the beginning and then weaker and limp over the course of the process. Concentration decreases, many react quickly to irritation, have a lower tolerance for frustration and are emotionally unstable. The skin is often dry and hair loss can even occur. It is easier to freeze, your heart rate and digestion slow down, your body temperature and blood pressure drop. Sleep disturbances can occur.

"When women are low in weight, they miss their periods. Men and women also lose their sexual interest. In addition, the risk of osteoporosis increases significantly and liver and kidney values ​​can deteriorate. Water can accumulate in the pericardium ", the specialist enumerates the consequences of the low weight. Which symptoms appear when and to what extent, however, differs from patient to patient and always depends on the low weight and the speed of weight loss. In addition to the typical consequences of starvation, everyone also has a very personal clinical picture when the body is only running on the back burner.

The psyche plays an important role in anorexia

It is important to know that not every underweight person is automatically anorexic. In anorexia nervosa, in addition to being too low, the psyche plays an important role. Dealing with food and one's own weight is disturbed. Hence, anorexia is also known as an eating disorder.

"According to the International Classification of Diseases ICD-10, anorexia is characterized by deliberately self-induced or sustained weight loss. There is also a fear of gaining weight. Strict measures are taken to prevent this from happening. Anorectic patients also have a body image disorder That means that they perceive themselves to be significantly thicker than they are, "explains the expert.

A body weight that is too low is always a health risk

A body weight that is too low is always risky for health, according to Wünsch-Leiteritz. Even healthy eating cannot compensate for this. "Anorexics can be convinced that despite their weight being too low they are adequately supplying their bodies with all the important nutrients and keeping it healthy because their focus is on fruits and vegetables. But that is a mistake," explains the expert. "It is true that there is no need for malnutrition, because the body is supplied with important vitamins, minerals and trace elements. But there is significant malnutrition. The body lacks the necessary energy in the form of calories to stay healthy and all of its functions to meet the production of many body substances such as hormones and enzymes. "

Stay away from strict eating plans

But what is good nutrition? Wünsch-Leiteritz advises against making strict plans to count calories, adhere to strict self-imposed dietary rules or in any other way fall into extreme eating habits, such as cutting fat from the menu. "As soon as you are constantly occupied with eating, in whatever way, you run the risk of slipping into an ongoing diet and putting your body in an unnecessary alarm state," the warning said.

You can eat healthily if you pay attention to a varied and balanced diet and regular meals. Three main meals a day are ideal. You should always eat enough to fill you up. And you should make sure that the food is good for you and that it tastes good. The body needs a mix of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats as well as a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables. Only when he is well cared for can he perform well and stay healthy.

Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.

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