Question

Teen Perspective: Taking Care of Your Body

How can losing too much weight be dangerous to my health?

A Answers (1)

  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    When your body does not receive enough calories or nutrition, it starts
    breaking down muscles in all sorts of places. One of its last resorts is to metabolize heart muscle for energy. Losing heart muscle can cause your heart
    rate to slow to fewer than fifty beats a minute; the average for a teen is 60 to 80 beats per minute. When that happens, you are at risk for sudden cardiac
    death if you add exercise, caffeine, or other stimulants. In addition, the heart
    can develop abnormal cardiac rhythms. The more life-threatening ones include
    prolonged QTC syndrome, in which it takes too long for your heart
    to repolarize after depolarizing, a process it needs to perform automatically
    with every beat.

    Other side effects include:

    • loss of brain tissue (cerebral atrophy) - you may find yourself reading the
    same paragraph over and over in order to comprehend it, or having a hard
    time with short-term or long-term memory

    • loss of bone tissue (called osteopenia) - this can give you little-old-lady
    bones at a very young age, with significant risk for stress fractures (breaks
    in the bones caused by overuse and weak bones)

    • euthyroid sick syndrome. - in this condition, your thyroid gland, located
    in the front of your lower neck, starts to slow down your metabolism if it
    does not see enough energy intake

    • delayed puberty (with loss of your ultimate adult height if you start young
    enough) and loss of periods (amenorrhea), which can lead to loss of bone
    tissue

    • kidney failure, liver failure, other organ failure if you lose enough weight

    • tons of cosmetic issues can occur also, including problems with teeth,
    nails, hair (dry, thin, and brittle), and skin (drying out and bruising easily)
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