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Underweight and its causes
Health problems related to underweight
Objectives of dietary management
Dietary modifications
Sample diet plan
To remember
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
  • Underweight and its causes

    Underweight is a condition when the body weight is 10 –20 % less than the average expected for one’s age, height and sex. There are several causes for one being underweight:

    • Inadequate food intake, both in quantity and quality.
    • Increased physical activity without an increase in food intake leading to energy deficit.
    • Pathological conditions like fevers, cancer, tuberculosis in which appetite is poor and energy needs are greatly increased.
    • Hormonal imbalance like hyperthyroidism increases the metabolic rate and hence the energy needs of the body.
    • Eating disorders due to obsession for slimming may be a cause as in cases of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

  • Objectives of dietary management

    • To restore body weight to normal
    • To rebuild body tissues and nutrient stores and restore health
    • To maintain desirable weight
    • To maintain good nutritional status

  • Dietary modifications

    Energy: An increase of about 500 kcal per day results in a weight gain of 0.5 kg per week. If a higher weight gain is desired, daily intake may be increased by 1000 kcal.

    Proteins: A high energy intake is accompanied with a high intake of proteins to build up the muscle mass. Easily digestible foods like milk, eggs, and a combination of cereals and pulses should be included in the diet.

    Carbohydrates: A high carbohydrate intake helps meet the high energy needs. Sugar, honey, cereals, starchy vegetables and fruits must therefore be included in plenty in the diet. The bulk of the food should, however, not be increased as it cuts down the food intake.

    Fats: Fats must be used in moderation so as to partly meet the energy needs but not exceed the tolerance.

    Minerals and vitamins: The diet should contain enough minerals and vitamins. Vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals and pulses, particularly in sprouted form, help in ensuring an adequate intake of minerals and vitamins.

  • Sample diet plan

    Corn flakes porridge
    Bread with omelette / fried egg
    Apple / any other fruit
    Mid morning
    Sprouted moong dal chat / fruit chat
    2 chapatti
    Rajmah curry / lobia curry / black chana curry / any other dal
    Brinjal bharta / any other vegetable
    Curds / raita
    Evening tea
    Banana milk shake / any other shake / cold coffee with ice cream
    Cheese and vegetable sandwich
    Vegetable soup / chicken soup
    2 chapatti Paneer kofta curry / chicken curry / fish curry / any other dal
    Cauliflower sabzi
    Fruit cream
  • To remember

    • Intake should be increased gradually.
    • Forceful feeding should be avoided.

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