Do You Think This Advice Is Outdated?

Updated on July 03, 2015
C.T. asks from Red River, NM
19 answers

My son just had his 11 year old check up. He's a bit tall and a bit underweight for his age. 75th percentile height, 40th percentile weight. He has always had this body type. He weighs 76 lbs and looks very healthy. My mom's side of the family are thin people. When my mom was young her doctor recommended she drink a chocolate malt daily to try to gain more weight. This was totally delightful to her! And she didn't put on any weight at all...stayed skinny. Back when she told me this we laughed about it bc it was funny to us. My brother and I are both thin people and were super skinny as kids even though we both ate a LOT...we were very big eaters. Neither of us had any pickiness. Because of this family body shape, I just have always bought whole milk. We eat regular normal dinners (such as tacos, spaghetti, roast chicken, hamburgers, pork chops, steaks and baked potatoes, etc) and we have ice cream for dessert regularly. Dinners are always served with a veggie and starch and some days a salad too. My son is pretty picky and likes these kinds of dinners...anything different he hates trying. He does not have a huge appetite. He usually eats what we serve and never wants seconds. For whatever reason he is a kid who is not motivated by's like he just doesn't care and he gets full after one serving of things. He will only eat 1-2 slices of pizza. His "huge" growing-boy-appetite has not kicked in yet...although I keep waiting to see this happen! Anyway, the doctor recommended that we give our son extra calories each day by having him drink a pediasure each day. He said giving him more ice cream is great. I think it's so weird that doctors still give out this kind of seems so outdated to me. Do you think so too? I think people just have all different body shapes and some people have a thin body type. I seriously doubt having my son eat an extra bowl of ice cream or drink a pediasure will do anything. It's not like I'm feeding my kids a low fat diet. I just thought it was strange advice. What do you think?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone. I just think it's ridiculous that the doctors are still giving this kind of advice! I wanted to know if others feel the same's outdated. It is obvious to me that this is a kid who comes from parents with a thin body shape and adding totally fake pediasure to his diet 1. will do nothing and 2. is just giving him man-made junk to drink with lots of unnatural ingredients. Why in the world would the doctor say this to his patients? And he says it in front of my kid...implying to him that he is "too skinny"...Thanks Doc. This is our new doctor since our move, and I am just getting to know him. Right now I'm missing our old doctor who seemed more with it.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Doctors routing reco adding full fats to the diet of kids are underweight. Good fats.
Skinny or chubby, every kid should eat healthy foods.
It's not like " the kid is thin--deep fry everything!" Lol

Back when I was a kid--egg bogs were the add in for skinny minis!

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answers from Kansas City on

I don't understand why your doctor is even talking about this. 40th percentile for weight sounds just fine to me. That means he's heavier than 39% of kids. He's basically around the middle. Unless he has health issues caused by this, I would absolutely leave it alone. Why do doctors think every little thing needs to be "fixed"? We're all different, we're supposed to be. Smh. I really think that food does not even need to be a conversation topic at this point (for your family).

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answers from Salt Lake City on

Outdated. If your family runs thin, and he has no health problems that could be associated with being underweight or being deficient in nutrients, and his energy levels are normal, why worry? And why introduce some factory made food product? (Pediasure does give pediatricians promotional materials and samples, BTW. That may be the source of the recommendation.)

NPR just did a story yesterday about how nutrition is not part of the required curriculum in most medical programs even today. You might want to take a listen. Doctors simply are not trained in this area to begin with.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My son is the same way. The doctor feels it is fine because a) we, his parents, are on the slim side, b) my son has plenty of energy, c) my son has been following the same growth curve since he was an infant. I don't see the point of "fattening him up".

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answers from San Francisco on

I would add an avocado or cheese before I would add something like Pediasure. One of my sons is like yours, and by the way he never had a monster appetite even during his growth surges, and he's quite tall. It sounds like your son is fine.

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answers from Austin on

We were taught that what was important was that both the height and weight were remaining fairly consistent. If the height, for example, increased to the 90th percentile from the 80th percentile, and the weight increased from the 40th to the 50th, they're both on the same basic track. But if the height increased only from the 60th to the 62nd, but the weight increased from the 50th to the 95th, you have a problem. Or if the height increases from the 50th to the 95th, and the weight goes down, you may have a problem.

At age 11, when your son participates in family dinners and eats a variety of foods, it sounds like you're doing just great. Food is fuel, not a reward. If your son has enough energy to participate in life, and is happy and active, then he's getting fuel. Just try to serve real foods, recognizable vegetables (steamed or roasted), and try making your own homemade taco seasonings and limiting processed foods. Salads are great and can include sliced steak or tuna or chicken. Some days, serve fruit for dessert (in its original form, not in sauce). It's amazing what happens when you place a bowl of berries, or fresh pineapple chunks, or grapes, on the table.

And don't let your son know that there's this discussion going on with this out-of-date doctor about food. Don't push your son, don't fuss over food. Make the meals relaxed and it sounds like he'll have a good attitude about food.

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answers from Boston on

Our doctor told me something I really appreciated when I asked about my petite slender daughter who has been in the 15% for weight most of her life. She said: "your job as a mom is to put a healthy varied diet in front of her. Her job is to choose how much to eat of it". Although she was put on Pediasure as a toddler when she dipped to the 1%. Eating more ice cream seems like bad advice to me.

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answers from Boston on

I agree with you. If he's healthy, and this has been how he has always been, then let him be. My two oldest (both 17) are naturally thin and it's such a blessing. I hope it's a trait they enjoy their whole lives so that they don't have to worry about the health implications of being overweight. My SD is 5'3, 105 lbs and a size 0-3 depending on the company. My son is 6'1, 155 lbs and has a 27-inch waist. My son's percentiles at age 11 sound roughly like your son's and his doc's attitude was "lucky him, keep up whatever you're doing!"

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answers from Boston on

The vast majority of doctors have never had a nutrition course, maybe a few had one elective in med school. The really good doctors will admit it.

Pediasure for an 11 year old on the brink of puberty? For what?

There are some great NUTRITIOUS full food supplements that are not loaded with sugar and fat but will nourish the cells, help build muscle, and which are not loaded with emulsifiers and other fillers. I recommended something to my neighbor who had a super skinny high schooler who really wanted to put on muscle, and we made it easy and delicious with zero effort. They were about to use Carnation Instant Breakfast and stuff like that until they read the ingredients and freaked out.

I see no reason to fill a child with milk fat, sugar and additives and teach poor eating habits. Your son's body will go into overdrive soon, and he'll be hungry.

I think you can add healthy fats to your family's diet without all that ice cream for anything other than a treat. I added all kinds of stuff to my own burgers, for example, and my son never knew the difference. Your son may well have a thin body type, and 40th percentile is nothing awful, so you can continue as you are, I think. If you want to add something to boost his immune system or help him build a bit for the teen years, there are much more intelligent ways to do it than ice cream and what he'll see as a "kiddie drink" of Pediasure.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Sounds nuts to me!!! Ice cream is full of sugar! I sure wish this was legitimate advice though. I L❤️VE ice cream!!!😊

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answers from Fayetteville on

I think your son is doing great!! Just keep feeding him what you're feeding him.

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answers from Norfolk on

Considering how the weight gain comes so much more easily in the mid to late 20's - I wouldn't worry about weight gain right now.
He's 11.
By 16 he might very well eat everything in sight and not even stop to chew.
Our son is 16 now and we have to remind him to slow down while he's eating.

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answers from Washington DC on

why? your son has a metabolism that can handle it, and some pediasure (or even ice cream) has extra fat and calories that might help him.
and it doesn't sound as if it would hurt.
it sounds as if you feel judged and are offended.
if you don't want to offer your kid 'totally fake' pediasure, or for that matter 'totally natural' ice cream made from raw milk and cane sugar harvested from your own farm, then don't.
but i don't get being all butthurt because the doctor made a mild suggestion.

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answers from Wausau on

My older son has always been in the low-end percentiles (25-40s) for height/weight. It is consistently the same, not a sudden change, so there is no reason for alarm. When he was younger he had some lingering illness and lost weight to the point where we did end up using Ensure Plus (extra calories) for awhile until his body weight was back to his healthy normal. There was no doubt in my mind at all during this time that he was an unhealthy level of thin. He looked horrible.

Other than that, he just eats when he's hungry and stops eating when he isn't. If your child has been a consistant 75/40 type and there isn't a medical need to gain weight, I would not worry about it.

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answers from Chicago on

You and your son and your family will spend a lifetime of working with different doctors. And nurses. Use whatever advice you feel works for you and put the rest on hold just in case. Your son is eleven and he knows what foods are available and what he will eat.
I have a large son, who loves to eat and always did. He lost a lot of weight at one point, but was still a bit round. A nurse who had to be at least sixty pounds overweight herself told him he should lose weight. Short of telling her where she should put her poundage, I told her politely he just lost about thirty pounds. And then I avoided her.
My mother's words: this too shall pass.
And yes it is strange advice.

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answers from Miami on

Well, I'll just say flat out that Pediasure may have calories, but it's not what I'd call nutritious. There are other nutrient drinks that are a lot more nutritious than that.

The thing about a diet with fat in it, is that you shouldn't necessarily use it as a method of putting weight on him. Too many fat grams can eventually build plaque in the arteries. Most pediatric cardiologists will tell you that puberty seems to protect kids from problems, until they are no longer in puberty (around their early 20's) and then need to really pay attention to keeping their cholesterol down. But in the same vein, peds usually say to use 2% milk after a child is two years old.

Rather than worry about more fat, perhaps making sure he is getting enough protein would be better. If you have really looked at his diet and know fat grams, protein grams, how much fiber he's getting, than that's probably good enough for you to not worry about supplements. Especially if using them would take away his appetite for nutritious food.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would want to see his growth chart. If he's on the chart and growing, then I wouldn't worry and I certainly wouldn't fill him with calories to be artificially bigger. My SS was always long and lean, no matter what he ate. I would just keep an eye on his growth and continue to encourage him to eat a healthy variety and moderation in sweets and fats.

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answers from New York on

The 40th percentile isn't severely underweight. For someone just a tad under, like your son, I don't think that giving a lot of extra calories that are mostly fat is sound advice. At age 11, two slices of pizza is normal. The dinners that you describe are normal, and it sounds like he eats a pretty healthy diet overall. Myself, I wouldn't give ice cream for extra calories - maybe a protein bar and a banana but really at the 40th percentile, I would not be worried. If he was in the 20th, I might be.
Good luck and I'm sure that you know best, mom.

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answers from Williamsport on

Know who doesn't know a darn thing about nutrition? Lots of American pediatricians. I've heard "diet advice" that would make your head spin.

Love the advice to add something artificial and also sugary whatever-type (lots have artificial flavors and colors and stabilizers and junk) "ice cream". What a "Fatten him up with random calories" approach. What is this, the 50's? If increased calories should be forced (they shouldn't) it would be in the form of healthy, real food (hard boiled organic eggs and organic asparagus cooked in real butter or organic almond butter on healthy bread), not junk. But if your son is eating well and comes from a long line of thin people, then he's lucky. Ignore the misinformed pediatrician on this and many other things....

Also, many thin people never gain weight, but they can have super unhealthy diets and all the same health problems as obese people as he should know... "Eat ice cream" what a dunce.

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