Overweight Child: Medical Evaluation
If your child has been diagnosed by a doctor as being Reference overweight Opens New Window or at risk of becoming overweight, a thorough medical exam is important to identify and treat any related health problems.
Your doctor will ask about:
- Your child's weight history, to see if your child has had an unusual change in rate of growth.
- What may have started the weight gain (such as an illness, family crisis or change, or medicine).
- A family history of Reference obesity Opens New Window, Reference type 2 diabetes Opens New Window, heart disease, Reference high blood pressure Opens New Window, and Reference gallstones Opens New Window.
- Sleeping problems your child may have, such as Reference sleep apnea Opens New Window, which means your child stops breathing at times while asleep.
- When you noticed your child's weight gain.
- Past efforts to manage weight.
- Unhealthy eating behavior, such as binge eating or fasting.
- Your child's diet and exercise history.
Causes of overweight
Your doctor will look for physical or emotional reasons for your child's weight gain, including Reference Prader-Willi syndrome Opens New Window, Reference hypothyroidism Opens New Window, Reference Cushing's syndrome Opens New Window (all of which are rare), or emotional causes such as Reference depression Opens New Window, Reference anxiety Opens New Window, and Reference eating disorders Opens New Window.
Some or all of the following tests will be done to help identify the cause and complications of being overweight:
- Reference Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and Reference thyroid hormone. Doctors often use these tests to detect a problem affecting the Reference thyroid gland Opens New Window.
- Reference Fasting blood glucose. This test measures blood sugar levels to find out whether a person has type 2 diabetes.
- Reference Urine free cortisol. A cortisol blood test can detect problems with the Reference adrenal glands Opens New Window or Reference pituitary gland Opens New Window.
- Reference Overnight dexamethasone suppression. Doctors can use an overnight dexamethasone suppression test to screen for Cushing's syndrome, a condition in which the adrenal glands produce too much Reference cortisol Opens New Window.
- Reference Lung function tests, such as oximetry. Lung function tests (or pulmonary function tests, PFT) check how much air your child's Reference lungs Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window can hold, how quickly your child can move air in and out of his or her lungs, and how well your child's lungs add oxygen to the blood and remove Reference carbon dioxide Opens New Window from the blood. The tests can help your child's doctor discover lung diseases and find out how bad the problem is.
Your doctor will also ask if your child is taking medicines that may result in weight gain, including:
- Antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, desipramine (Norpramin), and imipramine (Tofranil).
- Reference Corticosteroids Opens New Window, such as cortisone (Cortone), hydrocortisone (Cortef), and prednisone.
- Medicines used to control Reference seizures Opens New Window, such as divalproex (Depakote) and gabapentin (Neurontin).
During a complete physical exam, your doctor will check your child's health and look for early signs of problems, including:
- High blood pressure.
- Reference High cholesterol Opens New Window.
- Type 2 diabetes or high blood sugar levels.
Your doctor may refer your child to a medical specialist or a Reference registered dietitian Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 29, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator