We hear a lot in the media about the health risks of being overweight. But being underweight comes with its own set of risks — one of which is an increased risk of osteoporosis and fracture.

In fact, weighing less than 120 pounds is one of the strongest risk factors for poor bone health. There are a few reasons why. Having lower body weight means you tend to have less muscle mass, and bone mass is closely related to muscle mass. Thin women also generally eat less, and may be less likely to consume sufficient nutrition for bone building. Finally, if a woman’s body fat is too low, her periods will become irregular or will stop altogether, which is a major risk factor for poor bone health.

If you’re underweight, you owe it to your bones to gain a few pounds. But don’t take this as a green light to eat processed and sugary foods. Healthy weight gain means eating larger portions of healthy foods, or eating more often during the day. You may also have to reduce your level of physical activity if you exercise a lot. All that activity won’t help your skeleton unless it has the nutrition it needs to build bone.

Gaining weight is as difficult for some women as losing weight is for others. Our patients have had the most success when they focus on maximizing nutrient intake. The nutritional guidelines in our Better Bones Program will help you choose the right foods for healthy weight gain.

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