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Child Who Is Overweight: Medical Evaluation

Overview

"Overweight" and "at risk of overweight" are sometimes used to refer to children who weigh more than expected. Doctors use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts or the body mass index (BMI) to measure a child's weight compared to his or her height.

If you are concerned that your child is—or could become—overweight, talk with your doctor about your child's growth and medical history.

Medical and family history

Your doctor will ask about things such as:

  • Your child's weight over time. This can show if your child has had an unusual change in growth.
  • Your child's diet and physical activity.
  • What may have started the weight gain. It could be an illness, family crisis or change, or medicine.
  • A family history of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or gallstones.
  • Sleeping problems your child may have, such as sleep apnea.
  • Past efforts to manage weight.

Physical exam and tests

Your doctor will look for reasons for your child's weight gain. These may include conditions such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome. Your doctor also will look at emotional causes, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

During a physical exam, your doctor will check your child's health and look for early signs of problems, including:

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Type 2 diabetes or high blood sugar levels.

Your child also may have blood tests to look at problems with the adrenal glands and the thyroid. These tests look for the cause of being overweight as well as problems from being overweight.

Credits

Current as of: December 27, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator