Web Content Viewer (JSR 286) - Healthy Weight


Shape of a thin women in shirt and jeansThere are many reasons why people become underweight. Some do not eat a healthy, balanced diet. This may be for a variety of reasons including feeling too busy to eat, forgetting to eat, or even not being able to afford to eat sufficient nutritious foods. Even in a wealthy country like Australia some groups may find it difficult to provide enough food from the five food groups to eat every day. Weight loss can also be due to physical illness, such as infections, cancer or other conditions. Some people experience weight loss at times of stress.

Being underweight has important implications for your health. People who are very underweight:

  • Are at higher risk of having osteoporosis, decreased muscle strength, hypothermia and lowered immunity
  • May not live as long as those who are a healthy weight.

Women who are underweight have less chance of becoming pregnant than those who are a healthy weight.

Eating disorders and some mental health conditions may also lead to weight loss and sometimes people who are severely underweight need expert health assessment and care. It is important to remember that eating disorders can be effectively treated, and the outcome of recovery is improved with earlier intervention. 

Eating disorders and body image issues can affect anyone whether you are male or female, a teenager, child or adult. If you are concerned that you have an eating disorder, there are a number of places where you can go to seek help. Some of these are listed below.

  • As a first step, you should see a health professional because changes in eating behaviour can be caused by many different illnesses or conditions. Your health professional can talk to you about getting a diagnosis, the possible treatment options and other health professionals who might be able to help you.
  • You could contact the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders who operate a National Support Line staffed by trained counsellors experienced in assisting with eating disorders. The Butterfly Foundation support line is 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE).  Alternatively, you can email them at support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au or look at the information and resources on the Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders website.
  • You can access the National Eating Disorders Collaboration which provides information about eating disorders, services and access to clinical experts.

There are many benefits to being a healthy weight. If you have trouble putting on weight or maintaining weight, see a health professional for advice tailored to your particular needs.



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