Being Underweight is Hazardous to Health -

Being Underweight is Hazardous to Health

So many studies and medical reports have illustrated how obesity can be life-threatening and can affect your life insurance rates, but what about being too thin?

Being too thin can be a result of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia and can present a series of health issues, especially as you get older.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) defines the ideal body mass index (BMI) as between 20 and 25. Thus, anyone below that range would be considered underweight and those with a BMI from 18.5 to 17.5 extremely underweight, according to Today’s Dietitian.

According to Elena Blanco-Schumacher, RD, a clinical dietitian within the Christiana Care Health System at the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center, 8 percent to 9 percent of the population is, by these standards, underweight.

The following conditions are associated with anorexia, bulimia and underweight individuals:


With hyperthyroidism, your thyroid goes into overdrive that can accelerate your body’s metabolism, causing irregular heartbeat, excessive sweating and weight loss.

Poor Immune System and Anemia

Individuals who fall into the underweight BMI category are more susceptible to contracting a cold or the flu because they also suffer from a vitamin deficiency.

Lacking the necessary vitamins can also lead to anemia, which is typically caused by a lack of vitamin B-12. Symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and headaches.


Certain types of cancer can drastically affect one’s sleep pattern, making them more tired. Rapid weight loss and inability to gain weight are additional conditions that cancer patients may face. Because of this, it is essential that you check with your doctor to schedule a thorough exam.

Heart Disease

Because underweight individuals think they are in good health condition, they tend to avoid regular checkups that are meant to identify certain problems. These individuals may be at a higher risk for poor blood sugar levels and bad cholesterol.


TB is very common in South Africa. This is a wasting disease that is accompanied by rapid weight loss, coughing, night sweats, tiredness and malaise.

Once again, you need to find out if the weight loss you experience is due to TB so that you can receive the necessary treatments.


Low bone density can be related to low body weight; brittle bones can become unprotected without a certain amount of fat.

Depression, stress, medications, overdoing exercise and even enzyme deficiencies can hamper digestion and also cause weight loss.

If your BMI is under 18.5 and chronic diseases are combined, your rate for life insurance will be higher. It all depends on what is causing weight loss or the inability to gain weight.

Want to learn more about life insurance? Read our article The Most Frequently Asked Life Insurance Questions.