Is Underweight More Deadly Than Overweight? (Op-Ed)

A recent study from Healthline states that “clinically underweight people have almost twice the risk of death, compared to obese individuals.” This may be more problematic than people think because, according to a report by ABC News, 10% of people are underweight. With all the focus on the health risks related to obesity, there is a glaring lack of attention towards those who suffer from being underweight.
According to Sandra Levy from Healthline, people who are severely underweight do not have the proper nutrients to survive. Due to the fact that they hold no muscle mass, underweight people do not have enough energy stored to fight illnesses that may come their way. Without the proper nutrients, those who are underweight may develop osteoporosis, anemia, get sick more often, have an increase in hormonal issues, and even may experience slow or impaired growth.

With the many potential harms the can come with being underweight, there are also many psychiatric issues to be considered. Often times, people who are underweight also suffer from depression. As stated by Independent, “it seems that the current ideal of thinness affects women more than their male counterparts and causes more psychological distress in women, which can, in turn, lead to depression.”
Suffering from depression and being underweight can have negative consequences because the person is unaware of how much harm is actually being done. That being said, friends and family should try to notice if something is wrong. As well as looking for signs of being underweight, such as hair loss and fatigue, people should also become more aware of the symptoms of depression. Since people with depression have a higher risk of becoming underweight, noticing if someone loses interest in regular activities, changes their appetite, or even changes their behavior can prevent both depression and becoming underweight.

People with depression often hold high and unreachable expectations for themselves. There is a desire for the “perfect body” because of what the media presents and idolizes, causing people to have low self-esteem and a negative body image. What people who have unrealistic standards don’t know is that the “perfect body” may not be the healthiest.

Those who are “overweight” might actually be the healthiest, compared to those who are healthy or obese. Using the World Health Organization categories, people who have a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight. However, the BMI gives false readings because it only accounts for the height and weight of someone, and does not take into account muscle mass, bone density, or composition. According to a 2016 study from the Copenhagen University Hospital, 47 percent of people in the overweight category are perfectly healthy. The same study found that those in the “obese” category have the same risk of death as those who are “healthy.”
Most students learn that the higher the BMI, the greater the risks of diseases such as heart failure or even cancer. However, Medical News Today announced that “a number of studies have demonstrated that some obese individuals have lower cardiovascular risk and an improved metabolic profile, while a subset of ‘normal-BMI’ people are metabolically unhealthy and have increased mortality risk.”
It must be known that being a little “overweight” is not a bad thing and being underweight can be deadly if it is a constant lifestyle. We can’t just focus on the obese, those who are underweight need our help, too.

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