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Is My Child’s Weight Problem Due to an Endocrine Issue?

Every week in the WakeMed Children’s Endocrinology & Diabetes clinic, more than half of our referrals are for weight concerns.  Physicians, parents and patients themselves are seeking our expertise to rule out an endocrine problem that could be contributing to increased weight.

We can tell right away if a patient’s overweight is from an endocrine or “hormone” issue by looking at the child’s growth chart.

An Overweight Child

A growth chart for an overweight child shows corresponding increases in weight and height.  If your child is growing well, we can pretty much rule out the vast majority of endocrine problems.  It is true that overweight children tend to be taller than their normal weight peers.  This does not mean they are going to remain taller than average, but often when weight increases we also see a jump in height.  This is a direct result of overnutrition.

Obesity Growth Chart Sample

A Child With An Endocrine Problem

Children with endocrine issues also have very distinct growth charts.  Height will level off, but weight will continue to steadily increase.  In other words, the child is gaining weight but is not getting any taller.

Endocrine Disorder Growth Chart Sample

Solutions & Support

For thyroid problems contributing to overweight, we have several medications we can use to help the child achieve a normal weight.  For children who are overweight or obese, the best treatment is lifestyle change.  Statistically, overweight children are very likely to become overweight adults.  Help your child learn lifelong habits for good health through programs like Energize!, consultation with a nutritionist, and a close working relationship with your pediatrician.

Dr. Hillary Lockemer is a pediatric endocrinologist with Wake Specialty Physicians – Children’s Endocrinology & Diabetes.