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Among teenagers, weight issues and self-image are important. However, aside from these, it is also important to consider proper nutrition and overall health. Adolescence is a transition stage when the body and the mind experience rapid changes, which are influenced not only by genetic factors, but also by environmental factors.

Being a little bit chubby or having a lanky framework does not necessarily mean that a growing adolescent is unhealthy.

However, problems occur when one is severely obese or markedly underweight that health issues such as high blood sugar levels or malnutrition arise.

What Causes Underweight?

Many people blame their genes or their metabolism for either being overweight or underweight. Some people also think that they are growing taller at a faster rate, which keeps them from getting more bulk. However, experts may consider other factors that can affect your ability to gain weight such as:

  • Skipping meals, especially breakfast, which is common among children and teens
  • Loss of appetite due to stress in school or at home
  • Being weight-conscious
  • Having a chronic medical problem that affects your metabolism, absorption, or loss of nutrients
  • Restricted diet due to food allergies or sensitivities
  • Lifestyle habits like smoking or lack of sleep
  • Psychiatric disorders like Asperger's disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or schizoid
  • Limited food resources

Risks Of Being Underweight

Many doctors are not alarmed about teenagers being a little bit underweight unless they have some nutrient deficiency that causes problems, such as iron-deficiency anemia. However, it is best to seek medical help to determine the cause of underweight and to treat it to prevent possible risks such as:

  • Weakened immune system, which increases your risk for infection and disease
  • Lack of energy
  • Nutritional deficiency, which can lead to problems like anemia and osteoporosis
  • Hormonal problems, including delayed menstrual period

How To Gain Weight

  • Make sure to eat breakfast every day.
  • Eat five to six small meals a day instead of three big meals.
  • Choose nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole-grain pastas, breads, and cereals, nuts and seeds, dairy products, and lean protein sources.
  • Instead of drinking soda, coffee or drinks with little nutritional value, drink healthy smoothies and shakes with milk or fruit juice.
  • Avoid drinking fluids before your meals.
  • Eat healthy snacks like peanut butter and jelly sandwich, nuts, cheese, sliced vegetables, dried fruits or avocados.
  • Add extra calories to your dishes in the form of cheese, scrambled eggs, nuts, and fat-free milk.
  • Enjoy occasional treats such as a slice of pie with ice cream, yogurt, bran muffins, and granola bars.
  • Be sure to get five portions of fruits and vegetables, three portions of calcium from milk, yogurt or cheese, and lean protein from fish, meat, beans and legumes.
  • Use healthy oils for cooking such as olive oil and canola oil. Use butter or add trans-fat free margarine to your bagels, English muffins, or toast.
  • Get enough exercise daily, especially strength training, which can help you build up your muscles and gain weight. Exercise also stimulates your appetite.
  • Improve your lifestyle habits. Quit smoking, drinking alcohol or using drugs. Get enough rest and sleep (at least 8 hours/day).
  • Learn some stress management and relaxation techniques.

If you have any nutritional deficiencies, ask your doctor about taking nutritional supplements, especially if your diet is not enough to correct your deficiencies.

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