Underweight,like over, is a relative terms, being based on the ideal weight for a given height,
built and sex. A person can be regarded as moderately underweight if he or she weighs 10 per
cent below the ideal body weight and markedly so if 20 per cent below the ideal.
Appropriate body weight is among the most important physical attributes and has a deep
influence upon the health and personality of an individual. For a healthy body, weight slightly
above the average is favorable upto the age of 30 years, as it serves as a good defense
measure against certain diseases, especially tuberculosis
. Between 30 and 40 years of age, the
endeavor should be to maintain the weight at the average level as during this period, many
future diseases have their beginning. After the age of 40, it will be advisable to keep the weight
slightly below the average, so as to lighten the burden on the heart, kidney and other vital
There are two types of thin people. One type is wiry and energetic, who eat heartily but never
put on weight. Presumably, they burn up energy due to constant activity. Such persons need not
worry as chances are that they do not have any disease as such. The other type of thin persons
lack energy and drie, are unable to take normal meals and find that rich food usually makes
them sick. Their body lacks fat cells thus providing no storage place for added fat and the
calories they consume are probably wasted.
Underweight due to an inadequate caloric in take is a serious condition, especially in the young.
They often feel easily fatigued, have poor physical stamina and lowered resistance to infection
Diseases like tuberculosis
, respiratory disorders, pneumonia
, circulatory diseases like heart
, typhoid fever and cancer
are quite common among
them. The occurrence of the complications of pregnancy in your women may result from
malnutrition due to an inadequate energy intake.
may be due to inadequate nutrition or excessive bodily activity or both. Emotional
factors or bad habits such as skipped meals, small meals, habitual fasting and inadequate
exercise are some of the other causes of thinness
. Other factors include inadequate digestion
and absorption of food due to a wrong dietary pattern for a particular metabolism
disturbances such as an overactive thyroid
and hereditary tendencies. Disorders such as chronic
dyspepsia, chronic diarrhoea
presence of parasites like tapeworm in the alimentary canal, liver
,constipation, and sexual disorders can also lead to
Diet play an important role in building up health for gaining weight. Nutrients which help keep the
nerves relaxes are of utmost importance as nervousness causes all the muscles to become
tense and the energy which goes into the tenseness wastefully uses up a great deal of food.
Although all vitamins and minerals are required for a sound health the most important ones are
vitamin D and B6, calcium and magnesium. The richest sources of vitamin D are milk, cod liver
oil and the rays of the sun. Calcium is also supplied by milk and yogurt. Magnesium can be
obtained from green leafy vegetables such as spinach, parsley, turnip, radish and beet tops.
These vegetables should preferably be taken in salad former should be lightly cooked.
Lack of appetite can result from an inadequate supply of vitamin B, which leads to low
production of hydrochloric acid by the stomach. Hydrochloric acid is essential for the digestion of
food and absorption of vitamins and minerals into the blood. It is , therefore, necessary that the
daily diet should be rich in vitamin B for normal appetite. Proper digestion and absorption of
foods and regular elimination. Foods rich in vitamin B are all whole grain cereals, blackstrap
molasses, nuts, soyabean, eggs and butter. Vegetable oil is of special value to those wishing to
gain weight as it isrich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids .
Underweight persons should eat frequent small meals as they tend to feel full quickly. Meals
may be divided into six small ones instead of three big ones. These may consist of three smaller
meals and three substantial snacks between them. The weight-building quality of a food is
measured by the number of calories it contains. To gain weight, the diet should include more
calories than are used in daily activities so as to allow the excess to be stored as body fat. The
allowance of 500 calories in excess of the daily average needs is estimated to provide for a
weight gain of one pound weekly.
All refined foods such as products containing white flour and sugar should be avoided,as they
destroy health. Excessive intake of refined carbohydrates and fats may help the individual to put
on weight but this will be detrimental to general health. The diet should be tilted towards
alkaline-forming foods such as fruits and vegetables. Alkaline foods should comprise 80 per cent
of the diet. The other 20 per cent should consist of acid forming foods such as cereals, and
lentils. Beverages containing caffeine
like soft drinks, coffee and tea should be curtailed.
Smoking should be given up. Water should not be taken with meals but half an hour before or
one hour after meals.
An exclusive milk diet for rapid gain of weight has been advocated by some nature cure
practitioners. IN the begining of this mode of treatment, the patient should fast for three days on
warm water and like juice so as to cleanse the system. Thereafter, he should have a glass of
milk every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. the first day, a glass every hour and half the next day,
and a glass every hour the third day. Then the quantity of milk should be gradually increased so
as to take a glass every half an hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. If such a quantity can be tolerated
fairly comfortably. The milk should be fresh and unboiled , but may be slightly warmed, if
desired. It should be sipped very slowly through a straw. The milk should be unpasteurised, if
Figs are an excellent food remedy for increasing weight in case of thinness
. The high
percentage of rapidly assimilable sugar make them a strengthening and fattening food.
Regular exercises like walking and dancing, yoga , meditation and massage are also important
as they serve as relaxants, reduce stress
and induce good sleep. Yogasanas which will be
especially helpful are sarvangasana, halasana and matsyasana.
A balanced diet together with adequate exercise, rest ,emotional balance and the absence of
acute diseases will enable an underweight person to build a healthy body and to put on weight.