We’ve all heard ad nauseam about the “obesity epidemic.” We all know that thin is in and all that jazz. Indeed, we are bombarded with thousands of media images of slender, beautiful people, day in and day out. And most of us would give our left arm to lose a few pounds. But does being skinnier necessarily mean being healthier? Not exactly.
Recent studies show that underweight people don’t always take care of their health and are at risk for serious, if not severe, health problems. It is generally believed that being a healthy weight or even carrying a few extra pounds is better, so long as you eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
The risks of being too thin
Many people who are naturally too thin or waif-ish may feel that they can skip the gym or eat fast food and get away with it. But bad health habits will cause unpleasant problems down the road—like heart disease and diabetes—regardless of what the scale says.
But even skinny people who are trying hard to be healthy can still suffer from dangerous health risks. If your weight falls too low on the BMI chart, you’re at a higher risk for severe anemia, fatigue, infection, and reproductive issues. Anemia, caused by iron and B12 deficiency, prevents red blood cells from carrying oxygen to your organs, triggering exhaustion, irregular heartbeat, faintness, and shortness of breath. Immune system deficiencies (another skinny-person problem) prevent the body from adequately warding off infections, causing a higher frequency of illnesses.
Reproduction issues also plague willowy women. Periods can become increasing irregular, which minimizes chances of conception. Should they luck out and become pregnant, underweight women often cannot support the fetus, boosting the risk of miscarriage.
More severe risks of being underweight
Should drastic weight loss continue, some truly frightening health risks occur. Underweight women suffer from distorted body image, severe depression, and suicidal thoughts. Physically, their bodies go into panic mode and shut down. The body stops controlling its temperature, concentration and focus slip drastically, and periods stop completely. At this point, a woman is extremely unhealthy and, in most cases, must be hospitalized.
In sum, regardless of whether you are overweight, “average,” or slender, forming healthy habits is essential in the long run. All scales aside, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are the keys to long-term health and longevity.