Too many people trying to shed excess kilos, being underweight may seem a blessing. However, overly thin or low weight people run significant risks of infections (poorer immunity), osteoporosis, sensitivity to the cold, a general lack of muscle strength and a raft of other medical issues. Especially in the elderly, an underweight person has no “reserves” if they become unwell.
While overly underweight people (which runs around 2% of the adult Australian population) should consult their GP to examine possible causes, an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) plays a highly beneficial role in helping to gain weight.
How a dietitian helps
A dietitian has a variety of approaches in helping a client gain weight effectively, nutritiously and for the longer term. As always, it starts with a body composition analysis and a dietary assessment. Tailoring an individual plan to suit a client’s eating and lifestyle habits, a Healthier You dietitian is likely to recommend a strategy which includes:
- Increased overall food intake
- Increased snacking and meal frequency
- Increased energy density in each meal
- Adequate protein intake
- Food fortification
- Food diaries
- Individualised nutrition advice and meal plans
- Long-term nutritional management
Being significantly underweight is potentially a serious medical condition. Anyone with such a condition should seek advice from both a GP and a dietitian.