Underweight:Dietary Management

People who are very low compared to appropriate weight and health. Their are some formulas and the BMI of these underweight persons is less than 18.5.

Half the rural population in India is underweight because of their large families and rural area has inadequate supply of foods. Due to this inadequacy chronic food deficiency is caused because lack of energy.

A person may be underweight due to genetics, metabolism, drug use, lack of food, eating disorder, or illness.

Some medical causes are also responsible for underweight, for example a person with gastrointestinal diseases or liver disease may not absorb nutrient because they are unable to function. So, also we take nutrients in correct proportions by these type of diseases we may become underweight.

Underweight is a problematic condition which also effects our health and way cause anorexia, type 1 diabetes, hyperthyroidism, cancer, or tuberculosis.


Some of the causes of underweight.

Underweight is due to lack of adequate food, it may be due to financial problems, unavailability and starvation. This is mainly caused by inadequate protein in diet or trying to reduce weight. When come to starvation, it isn’t a good thing because in this process fatty tissue is lost and heart muscles, small intestines lost their absorptive function. It may lead to some health issues like low blood pressure, loss of hair due to protein deficiency and inelastic skin.

Due to diseases caused by underweight,infections are increased and common. Psychological factors like anorexia nervosa) may also lead to eat less, so that they loss weight.It is usually seen in girls aged 15-25. By this anorexia, electrolytes may lost through vomiting.

Underweight is also affect the people who are more active, workaholic, tense, nervous and people who never take rest.

By these reasons they may take care of their diet, they avoid food. So that they are prone to underweight which leads to lost concentration on work, tired and he can’t work continuously.


Many awareness programs should be conducted. Since the feeding programmes should be gradual initially glucose water, fruit juices and skimmed milk powder may be given.

In diseased conditions,tonic may not work efficiently or not useful as they are only help to improve appetite but donot increase weight. It is better to use high calorie foods if they are expensive.

In girls,menstruation may stopped,which become normal by diet slowly.In such conditions patients are admitted in hospital and should supply high calorie diet like bread, skimmed milk, wheat and dairy products.

Dietary Management:

Principle: High Calories, High Protein, High Fat, Liberal Vitamins And Minerals.

It is important to know the cause of underweight of an individual, according to that, the cause is reduced and then diet should be started based on requirements.

Energy: The calorie requirement vary depending upon the activities. To increase the weight the total calorie intake should be in excess of the energy requirement. Extra 500k.cal per day is recommended that a normal person. The increase of weight should be gradually increase by one or two weeks if their no intestinal problems, if not digestives disturbances may occur.

Protein: Normal requirement of protein is 1g per kg body weight. Where in underweight instead of 1g, 1.2g protein per kg body weight is recommended for bodybuilding and tissue formation. Initially good protein sources must be included. Complete proteins are totally absorbed by the body.

Fats: Generally fat content is easily increased but you have to choose easily digestible fats. Fried and fatty foods are not recommended as they may cause diarrhoea. As fats reduce appetite,they are good to take at the beginning of the meal. High calorie fat foods are cream, butter, margarine and oils help to increase the weight.

Carbohydrates: High carbohydrate sources must form the basis of the diet. Leafy vegetables should be restricted and preference to be given to protein and yam. Dried fruits, sweets, nuts, desserts, jams, jellies, cereals and their products non-vegetarian foods are rich in energy source. The no.of meals should be increased in a day. Soups, juices or sweets must include between meals improve the nutritive value of the diet. Easily digestible foods are given. Porridges, cutlets, desserts, potato chips, high protein drinks like milk, malted milk and badam kheer can be included.

Vitamins And Minerals: There is no need to add extra vitamin and mineral supplements.

Fluids: Fluids should not be taken before or with meal but only after the meal. So that food intake is not reduced. Required quantity of fluids must be taken to avoid constipation.