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As society today grapples with the problems of body image and eating disorders, there have been calls to make sure that all people, whether they are underweight, average, or overweight, to be accepted for who they are and to not be shamed. But how are these categories actually defined?


Underweight is defined as weighing noticeably less than the average for one’s age group. A commonly used metric of declaring someone underweight is BMI or body mass index. If this metric, which is gathered from one’s height and weight, is below 18.5, then the person is considered to be underweight. While BMI has its flaws and criticisms, due to its inaccuracy in calculating body fat, it is still used by doctors around the world to determine whether or not someone is actually underweight.


According to the National Health Service, being underweight may be caused by eating disorders, stress, not consuming balanced meals, and medical conditions. If one’s weight is not restored to normal, it can have long ranging consequences, such as causing nutritional deficiencies, fertility problems, and a weakened immune system. Medical professionals recommend trying to reach a normal weight if you are considered underweight through increasing one’s caloric intake and eating a balanced diet.

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