Q: I am a teenager of 18 years 8 months, my height is 171 cm and weight is 45 kg. My BMI is 15.4. I am underweight and I really, really need to add weight before April – June 2017 for a BMI screening. Please Doctor what should I do?
Q: Thanks for writing in, dear.
Your BMI is a quick way to tell whether or not you might be underweight or overweight, and what health problems you might have or develop because of your weight.
It is actually a measure of weight to height. It is calculated by dividing your weight in kg by your height squared in meters (that is height x height). Eg, if one weighs is 80kg and is 1.6m tall, the person’s BMI is 31.25. Different BMI readings have different meanings.
If you’re under age 21, your age and gender need to be factored into your BMI to account for the different speeds at which guys and girls develop.
If your BMI is less than 18.5, you are in the underweight category. Talk to your doctor to find out if your weight is a symptom of a medical problem. A registered dietitian can help you learn about healthy eating.
If your BMI is between 19 and 24.9, you are in the recommended weight range for your height. But your health may still be at risk if you are not getting regular physical activity and practicing healthy eating. So, don’t start rejoicing just yet
If your BMI is 25 to 29.9, you are in the overweight category. This may or may not be unhealthy, depending on some other things, like your waist size and other health problems you may have.
If your BMI is 30 or higher, you’re in the obese category. You may need to lose weight and change your eating and activity habits to get healthy and stay healthy
Apart from your BMI, your waist measurement also plays a significant role in your health status.
It’s interesting that being underweight comes with its own problems…much like being overweight. People who are underweight are prone to having nutritional deficiencies like brittle bones because of lack of calcium. This leaves them open to bone fractures. They are also prone to diseases as they have weak immune systems. They are always tired, hardly having any energy to do stuff and they also have menstrual irregularities. If they haven’t started having periods, it’s further delayed and if they have started having periods, then it becomes irregular.
The first thing would be to find out why you are underweight. Have been ill, recently? Have you been snacking more than you’ve been eating proper food? Are you stressed? Are you avoiding food so that you don’t add weight?
Generally though, to add weight in a healthy way:
Focus on calorie-dense but nutritious foods like eggs, nuts and milk. Full cream milk is definitely an option, especially if you don’t have a high cholesterol level.
Eat often…6 ‘small’ meals per day is not out of place. Starchy carbs are great too (local rice, potatoes, oats, whole grain/wheat bread etc). Some exercise before meal times is a great and healthy way to work up an appetite. Taking some fruits as appetizer before mealtimes also helps stimulate an appetite. Smoothies are also great breakfast and snack options. Dried fruits and nuts can be added to cereals, salads and even yoghurt. Try not to drink too much water before or during a meal to ensure you have enough space for the main event which is the food 😀
Remember that it only takes a little effort to pile on the weight…a second on the lips and a lifetime on the hips, aye 😀 So focus on complex carbs and lay off the sugar-filled calories and pastries (these are empty calories which create more problems than they solve) and remember that nuts should be taken by the handful, dairy should not exceed 4 glasses per day, oil should be used sparingly etc. Indeed, moderation in everything…as usual.
If none of these help, please be sure to see your doctor to ensure that this is not the symptom of another problem like an eating disorder.
All the best, sweetheart 😀
Have a fab weekend, everyone 😀