Overweight Child: Medical Evaluation

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Topic Overview

If your child has been diagnosed by a doctor as being overweight 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 obesity , type 2 diabetes , heart disease, high blood pressure , and gallstones .
  • Sleeping problems your child may have, such as sleep apnea , 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 Prader-Willi syndrome , hypothyroidism , Cushing's syndrome (all of which are rare), or emotional causes such as depression , anxiety , and eating disorders .

Some or all of the following tests will be done to help identify the cause and complications of being overweight:

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).
  • Corticosteroids , such as cortisone (Cortone), hydrocortisone (Cortef), and prednisone.
  • Medicines used to control seizures , such as divalproex (Depakote) and gabapentin (Neurontin).

Physical exam

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

Your doctor may refer your child to a medical specialist or a registered dietitian .


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015