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Question
Posted by: curious | 2010/06/13

Categories and generalisations

hi doc :)
I''ve been reading a few questions and replies...
is it not possible to live healthily at a BMI of say 14. surely, if you dont have any life-threatening symptoms you are okay? i just get frustrated that we are always categorised into " boxes" . We are all different and yes, at such a low BMI some people may experience terrible symptoms and side-effects, but we cannot generalise can we?i may handle a heart rate of 47 well, but a friend could feel aweful at that same heart rate (if we are equally fit).

just curious to what you have to say. Your answers are always a pleasure to read.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Curious
Thank you for your kind words. The problem with working with many hundreds of different people who write in to this site, is that I have to use certain benchmarks which are generally applicable. The BMI is not the only benchmark for assessing someone's weight, but you may have noticed that in the posting about the person in question, the Reader who posed the questions also mentioned that this person was 'emaciated'. Thus it is reasonable to deduce that the person with the BMI of 14 was no longer functioning at capacity and that his or her very low weight was starting to impinge on her/his health. In general a BMI below 18 is regarded as tending towards the unhealthy end of the spectrum and one of 14 is really very low which sets alarm bells ringing. The patient in question may have induced this low BMI with purging or self-starvation, or he/she may have a serious underlying illness like cancer or an inability to digest or absorb food.
Thus general guidelines have to be used in the absence of being able to do a medical examination, obtain a full medical history and seeing the patient and how he or she performs.
Hope this helps
DietDoc

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Our users say:
Posted by: DietDoc | 2010/06/13

Dear Curious
Thank you for your kind words. The problem with working with many hundreds of different people who write in to this site, is that I have to use certain benchmarks which are generally applicable. The BMI is not the only benchmark for assessing someone's weight, but you may have noticed that in the posting about the person in question, the Reader who posed the questions also mentioned that this person was 'emaciated'. Thus it is reasonable to deduce that the person with the BMI of 14 was no longer functioning at capacity and that his or her very low weight was starting to impinge on her/his health. In general a BMI below 18 is regarded as tending towards the unhealthy end of the spectrum and one of 14 is really very low which sets alarm bells ringing. The patient in question may have induced this low BMI with purging or self-starvation, or he/she may have a serious underlying illness like cancer or an inability to digest or absorb food.
Thus general guidelines have to be used in the absence of being able to do a medical examination, obtain a full medical history and seeing the patient and how he or she performs.
Hope this helps
DietDoc

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