Doctor to Assess and Make Recommendations on Daughter's Weight Problem

Updated on August 18, 2008
D.L. asks from Sammamish, WA
83 answers

I'm frustrated and worried about my 12-year-old. With all the panic about anorexia in teenage girls, I am a bit apprehensive about addressing the opposite problem...my formerly slender (in a healthy way) daughter just keeps gaining weight. I provide well-balanced, non-junk meals (NEVER fast food), healthy snacks (fresh fruit), and encourage her to get outside and enjoy some fresh air and exercise. The rest of us (two parents, two kids) don't have weight problems, so she isn't modeling poor eating behavior in other family members. But she just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

She's not actually obese at this point, but she's definitely overweight and has developed a particularly large tummy. It's really very large, like a (hate to say it) woman who is about 5 - 6 months pregnant. That's what's really worrying me - you hear about the dangers of belly fat these days, and I've noticed that everyone in her dad's extended family with that big belly has developed Type II diabetes, some at a very young age. I DON'T want that to happen to her!

I've tried working with her on good food choices and the importance of exercising. She definitely "gets it," and is really upset about her weight and the large abdomen. I really don't think she eats that much. I'm sure she sneaks a forbidden snack sometimes, but not to a terrible degree. And I really don't want to keep harping on this with her until it turns into nagging - that won't do any good at all.

What I think would be a good idea at this point is to see a doctor who will assess her weight from a medical standpoint and put her on a sensible weight control program. Reasons - it is a medical issue in my mind not a beauty issue, and it's easier to take something seriously when it comes from a doctor instead of Mom. But I'm worried - it's my impression that many doctors are more concerned about anorexia than overweight and would rather just leave teen girls alone about overweight unless they're actually obese. I looked at one local pediatrician's website to see what it said about weight issues, and it confirmed my fears. "Oh, if you're kid's fat don't worry; he or she is probably just meant to be on the chubby side." Well, I know that some kids are naturally stocky or sturdy and aren't meant to be skinny, but sorry I just don't think it's okay for kids to be overweight. And my daughter was always a slender girl until she started gaining, about 1-1/2 years ago. Ugh, I can just imagine going to some doctor who says "Oh, she's just a big healthy girl, what's wrong with YOU Mom, trying to make a Jon Benet Ramsey out of her or something?" OF COURSE NOT, but am I supposed to just ignore the problem, let overweight progress to obesity, and brush aside a serious risk of diabetes?

Does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts?

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A.H.

answers from Spokane on

I was anorexic, and worry about how I talk to my daughter all the time, not wanting her to follow in those footsteps at all! I would just keep the focus on exercising (maybe as a family) and good choices in food and snacks. Now is a great time to have her help make dinner, and help with a grocery list. This will open conversations about food and health in a non-threatening way. It will also teach her how to keep up the good behaviors as an adult.
Good luck

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I was a small girl, and then around 10-12 I gained weight and got chubby. The summer before 7th grade I hit puberty, and the weight just fell off. I did not do anything to lose weight, I was just a normal active child, but once puberty hit it took care of the extra weight. I would keep an eye on the problem, but try to to jump on it to fast. Wait until she develops a little more and see what happens.

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

she's going thru puberty, Mom. Many girls will gain weight, but as long as her eating habits are sound, she's getting fresh air and her activity level is up, please let her be her. If you are still concerned, then take her to her pediatrician and have a physical done. Her body is changing and talking about it as if it's a bad thing will only cause her to have image problems. Again, let her grow and develop. Take the changes in stride, and if the concerns still exist due to an excessive weight gain, then go to the doctor. She may have metabolism issues.

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M.R.

answers from Seattle on

I really hate to sound rude, but I'm a daughter (16, not a mom but find this site's information helpful) of a mother who is doing exactly what you are doing. I started gaining weight about a year and a half ago and my mom started nagging and "worrying" about my weight. I told her it wasn't an issue, but she didn't stop. It got so bad that I even considered suicide. When my mom asked the doctor about it the doctor said it was nothing, mostly just hormones. I just would be sure that your daughter knows you are not trying to be rude and be sure to ask her opinion about asking the doctor. Also, if she asks you to stop bringing it up, please listen, I really don't want her to have to go through the same emotional pain I did. I definitely had low self esteem to start and this whole "arguement" completly destroyed all of it. I'm finally aware that I'm "M." sized: Not too big, not too small, and I've learned to ignore mom's constant "worry". On one other note, please don't compare her to your family that jsut makes her, or at least it made me, feel like a disappointment to the family. I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, I just don't want the same thing that happened to me to happen to another girl.

M.

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B.H.

answers from Portland on

As a mother whose family has a long history of diabetes, I strongly support your efforts. Perhaps you can set up a consultation with the pediatrician so you can speak with him/her about the issue and make sure you are on the same page before making your daughter an appointment. That way, if the doctor doesn't agree with you, you can look for another doctor without having put your daughter through the appointment.

Also, exercise is a HUGE part of weight management (as well as sugar control) for a lot of people, and your daughter may be one of those people. Encouraging her to get outside may not be enough. She is old enough for you and she to join Curves together, or start a regular family exercise program of some sort, whether it is biking, walking, or something similar. Asking her to do it alone is asking too much of a 12 year old, but doing something to commit to together can teach her to make real exercise a part of her daily routine.

Best of luck!
Beth

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K.O.

answers from Seattle on

My gosh- when I read your response, I almost started crying. You could have been my mother and your daughter could have been me many years ago. First of all: I want you to know that your daughter knows she is heavy- and she probably feels she is disapointing you by being so. Take her to the doctor: it may be a thyroid problem or it may just be a growth spurt about to come, but DO NOT MAKE THIS ABOUT HER WEIGHT, make this about her health and DO NOT TIE IT TO HER WEIGHT!!!! As long as she is eating healthy and getting exercise she will be fine! Listen to doctors they are doctors and they know health!!!
I felt all my life that I was a failure because I was heavier than my mother. (My mom was homingcoming queen/head cheerleader who married the captain of the football team, and I am built like the captain of the football team, not my mother)My mom had me join weight watchers at 12 and every other diet program along the way. I hated high school and wore nothing but baggy clothing so my mom couldn't see my body and I hated going home from college, beause all she would comment on was how was looking. I still hate being in a swimsuit in front of her because I look different than she does (the funny part of this is my BMI is fine- my doctors say I am very healthy and active, I am just bigger than she is) People look different and that is okay.
My mother thought she was concerned about my health- and I am sure she was, but all I heard was that I wasn't good enough because I wasn't like her. This lead to more binge eating and later bulimia and severe depression. I know my case is extreme but my mom never thought she was doing anything wrong.
Now I am a high school teacher and I see this pattern over and over, girls getting mixed messages from media and peers, and if they look different that the models on the cover of a magazine they are not good enough- please, please please do not make your daughter feel she has to look like that to be healthy.

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

I've known of people who had stomach weight, who learned that they had an intolerance to gluten, and once they stopped eating gluten, their weight went down - starting with the belly. I don't know that most MDs would believe that, but if you are going the naturopathic route you'd probably get more help. It's difficult, but you might try getting her off gluten for a couple of weeks, maybe without even saying a word to her about it, and see if you notice a difference. I've been trying to go gluten free for the same reasons (thyroid issues - NOT found by MDs, but found by my naturopath). It can be challenging, but can be done. Instead of pasta, I've been making a lot more rice. Bread is just extra calories anyway. It can be hard to figure out what to do instead of sandwiches, but if that is her problem, it would be worth it to figure it out. There's tons of information out there. You can do google searches of "gluten belly fat" or "gluten thyroid" or "gluten diabetes" and find a wealth of information. If she's going through puberty, she may well have metabolic syndrome. It would be so helpful to her for a life time if you figured this out sooner rather than later. It's not normal or ok to gain excessively with puberty. It doesn mean that something is off. I'm a hormonal disaster, ever since puberty, and still struggle with fertility, weight gain, and so much more. If you can spare her, she'll be so much better off... I'm still learning. Good luck!

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

YES!!! Take her to the doctor!

There's probably nothing wrong with her...sounds like she's just hit puberty (healthy girls typically gain between 10-30 lbs at onset, without change in diet. It also tends to melt away, also without change in diet once the hormones have normalized. The body is simply preparing for some major "Caution! Road Construction Next 150 miles". Unfortunately, pubescent girls have become sex objects...so society wants them thin. (Sounds like you're worried about health and diabetes...the comment was directed at our culture, not your intentions.:) About the worst thing a girl can do at this stage is to go on a diet...it DECIMATES the metabolism and kicks up the whole starvation cycle thing if she's already eating healthily.

Dieting at puberty (when there's nothing else going on) really only has one effect: it will make it very difficult to maintain a healthy, normal weight not just in the near future, but according to some longitudinal studies, for the rest of her life. ((I don't know if I buy that, I'd want a larger testing / control group then American studies can provide, before I'd believe it would last a persons WHOLE life...but in any event...dieting during this period is a no no-no.)) And yep. We all know NOT dieting doesn't mean eating at the Cheesecake factory 3 meals a day, so we won't go there.

WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE HER TO THE DOCTOR:
Her weight gain could have little to do with puberty it:
- might be diabetes related
- might be thyroid related
- might be depression related
- might be pregnancy related
- might be cancer related
- might be might be might be might be

A good doc will run a mess of blood tests, run a simple psych screening (reeeeeeaally simple...as in "How've things been @ school/@home/with friends? type), and be able to rule out the 2 dozen things it might be...and give you some peace of mind and a course of action about what it really is.

One Note: If your doc, after running all the necessary blood-tests determines that your daughter SHOULD go on a diet...seek the help of a professional, licensed, nutritionist...they have the education necessary to be able to balance what she needs physiologically for puberty, with weight loss, so your daughter will not start a yo-yo cycle of fighting with her body.

Z

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K.S.

answers from Seattle on

My first question is: Do you know for certain that she's not pregnant? If you say that she is NOT eating too much, then there has to be a medical explanation. Pregnancy is at the top of the list. If she is gaining weight and there is no medical explanation, then the weight increase is because of her consumption of calories. She's eating more than you know about - and it is NOT a forbidden snack every now and then. To result in the kind of dramatic and sudden weight gain you are talking about (without a medical explanation), she has doubled or tripled her caloric intake. Juice, soda, chocolate, chips, candy, a fast food combo meal . . . it is ridiculously easy to tack on an extra 1,000 calories per day by consuming any of these items.

Ask your daughter to keep a food journal. Have her write down everything she eats or drinks each day for a few days. This worked for my younger sister. It turned out that the "surprise" calories was coming from the three to five glasses of whole milk she would drink each day - and this combined with her love of McDonalds (and sudden freedom to visit McDonalds) helped cause a 50 pound weight gain in a matter of a few months. Once she could see exactly where her glut of calories was coming from, she started drinking 2% milk (a little less frequently) and she started limiting the junk food.

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C.H.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,

Has your daughter started her period yet? Sometimes hormones can cause the weight gain until she has settled down into a regular cycle. Also, you say that she doesn't eat much, but she should be eating about 2500 calories a day or more, depending on her activity schedule. Smaller meals more often will help her metabolism and make sure she is drinking plenty of water- a minimum of 10 glasses a day- more in the heat that we just had. I was a bit chubby when I was your daughter's age and started on a swim team, which helped me slim down a lot, and I loved it. For me, it was the hormones related to puberty. If your daughter is active, eats well AND is ACTIVE, then I really don't think you need to worry. The biggest problem is not eating enough and her metabolism shuts down, causing her body to go into starvation mode. Regular eating times and snack times really help to get the body back on track.

I also think you should see her pediatrician to get some blood work done to make sure that there is nothing medical underlying your daughter's weight gain.

Good luck!
C.

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N.D.

answers from Portland on

Hi D.,

I read your story and can definitely sympathise. I have 2 daughters, 14 and 17. I myself was a little on the chubby side as a child. I think I may have some insight that could help. I am now 42 and over six feet tall. I really do believe that I gained weight as a child partially because I am now tall. I am not overweight as an adult. I have excellent health, and I do exercise, but I don't think I would be overweight if I didn't. I think children are at various stages of weight and growth throughout their childhood, and sometimes what we think to be 'unhealthy' or not normal could actually be their bodies doing what they know how to do, to develop as they are meant to develop, and grow and mature into adults. I actually grew until I was around 21, and even if I had gone to see a doctor, I would not have figured out why I did grow into adulthood. I know you can relax, enjoy your daughter, and help her believe in herself and be proud of who she is. Worrying about her body will actually keep her from being a healthy girl emotionally and spiritually! Her body knows what it is doing, let it do its work and deal with a health issue only if a real one presents itself! Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from Seattle on

I don't mean to sound harsh or rude, but she will be fine. Children develop at different stages of their life. She is hitting the time of her life right now where her whole body changes, puberty. I know that you are concerned for her health as a result of her weight. But you also need to be concerned about the personal effects your daughter is having from your constant reminding of how big she is. I was tiny when I was young. At the time I hit puberty, about her age a little younger, I gained weight. Your constant worry over her weight, is having an effect on your daughter and I can tell you, it's probably not a positive one. Young females have enough pressure from what they see and read about famous females, they need the support from their families to be who they are, not what they see. If she is not obese, leave it alone until she hits and goes through puberty. The more you say something about her weight issue, the more she will dwell on the fact that something is wrong with herself and she will no longer be a happy, life loving child that I am sure you want her to be. Suicidal thoughts and anorexia/bulimia will then become a factor if you keep telling her that something is terribly wrong with her. I know, I've been there.

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A.W.

answers from Seattle on

Hi- here's my thought. I was always a bigger girl. I always ate healthy. I always exercised, but nothing seemed to help...I was just bigger. It may be that your daughter's weight change is a result of hormone change, or she may just be on the chubby side. The fact that she has a bigger tummy makes me wonder about insulin resistance or PCOS. I've had several friends in college with the same problem. They eat mostly healthy food and exercise tons, but they have tummys because of their insulin resistance and PCOS. Or maybe she has a thyroid problem. I don't know, but what I want to say is be ever so careful with her. Please don't make her feel bad about being big...I know my parents had my best interest at heart, but it really just ruined me everytime they said "You sure you wanna eat that?" or "Maybe you've had enough to eat." I guess my point is that if she's eating healthily and exercising, then she's probably healthy regarless of her weight/look. I would probably take her to a doctor and have her thyroid tested and see if she's insulin resistant...make sure it's not a health problem.

If you do that though, try to talk to the pediatrician ahead of time. I remember one visit to my pediatrician where she just kept asking me all of these insulting questions, "You like to eat a lot of ice cream huh?? Well maybe you should cut back." In the end she sent me to a dietician (this was at age 8) and I just never came back from that. I never felt normal after that and I always felt bad about myself and my body when the truth was that I was a totally normal girl eating healthy foods in healthy amounts and being really active. So i you go to the doctor talk to her about the problem before hand, that way you don't have to sit there and talk about it in front of your daughter. It sounds like she's already aware of the problem, but it's not her fault and she should never feel like it is. When you do talk in front of the doctor I'd sort of defend her... "She eats a great diet, she's very healthy. We just want to make sure that there's no health problem." That way she knows that you know it's not her fault and she doesn't feel bad about it. She knows you're on her side.

Anyway- I hope this didn't sound preachy or anything. I just feel for your daughter and I wanted to try and relate how hard it is for overweight girls at that age anyway. Health isn't always related to weight...you can be healthy and bigger. Oh, and please don't make her keep a food journal...it's just going to make her worry more. Sounds like she's healthier than most kids.

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A.H.

answers from Medford on

My son went thru a chubby stage from about 9-12 yrs old. I tried very hard not to make him feel self-conscious, and we never had sodas or chips around the house. Two things happened. I said that he needed to do a sport in school, and signed him up for football after he ruled out the other sports. He HATED it. I said he could not quit in the middle of training.
By the end of the year, something switched on, and he started liking how he looked and felt.
The other thing was his growth spurt, which I knew was coming, because his dad is tall. So now, he is 16, 6'5" and lean and fit. He switched from football to crew this year (rowing) and loves it.
These are my thoughts... build her esteem as much as you can. Positive reinforcement, tons of it. And get her in volleyball, or swimming, tennis, whatever it is, get her building some muscle tone. She will feel so much better, and be so much healthier.
Remember, she still has growing to do. I never let my son know how worried I was about his weight. I just kept commenting on how strong and healthy he seemed. And tried to do some of the football exercises and couldn't, which puffed him up a little bit. I know you love your daughter & want the best for her. Good luck

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L.U.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D. - I haven't read any of the other responses yet, but as an overweight woman I just had to respond.
I would IMMEDIATELY STOP talking to her about it. You said she gets it, you said she's upset about her belly, then don't bring it up again. EVER. If you are providing her with healthy things to eat and snack on, and she is getting outside and being healthy, then that's enough for now. She's only 12 1/2!! She could be getting ready to go through puberty! Boys AND girls gain a bit of weight before they start to develop. But if you are saying anything like "well, we don't want to gain any weight" or "lets not add on to your belly" or ANYTHING that hints at her weight you are NOT helping. I am one of 5 siblings, and am BIG, and I am the only one. All the rest of my family is skinny or slender, but 3 of my siblings can gain weight in an instant if they stop being active. (one of them could eat a horse and not gain an oz!)It's coming up on soccer season, you could ask her if she wants to join a team, or volleyball, softball, anything that is active. Ask her how she feels about being on a team of some sort.
I know you have the best of intentions for your daughter, and I know that as a parent we worry about our children putting on weight. I know because I am CONSTANTLY worried about my kids putting on weight and being heavy because it was so hard (and is so hard) for me. You are judged all the time, by other mothers (especially), the public, and even teenagers that snicker behind your back. If your daughter has put on weight you need to be her support and love her ( I know you do, you are concerned) but if she feels like you are trying to get her to lose weight, even if she is ASKING for your help, then she will feel like you don't love her enough, or like she is failing you somehow.
It's a tough issue mama. Good Luck, L.

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J.T.

answers from Portland on

D., it seems to me that you are a very concientious and intelligent mom, so give yourself a pat on the back. Your daughter is lucky to have you in her corner. I'm wondering if there may be something else going on. If she is eating a sensible diet and getting enough physical activity, should her tummy be so prominant? Is it distended? I think having a full examination by a pediatrician is a very good idea. That, to me, is the most logical starting point. My advise is to go beyond simple weight management, and consider other things. For whatever it's worth, my neice showed similar traits. After years of frustration, it was finally established that she has ciliac disease. Many doctors don't test for this right away, so it might be worth it to ask that ciliac be included in the diagnostic picture. It's a very simple blood test. My point is that your daughter may not have a "weight problem", and it may be constructive to broaden your scope of possibilities. I wish you and her much luck and good health!

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K.R.

answers from Bellingham on

Well, you have every right to be concerned. You are her mother and have noticed a change in your child. It's not as though she is 'just chubby' because, usually, children who are just built that way are like that from the start.
If she has recently started gaining it could very well be a health issue. I'd say YES! TAKE HER TO THE DOCTOR. There could be a lot of different medical reasons why she has gained weight.
This could also be a psychological/ emotional issue. It is pretty common for people (especially women) to 'feed' their feelings. Maybe she is going through puberty and having a tough time with all of her changing emotions. Maybe she has suffered emotionally in some way and doesn't know how to handle it. Think back to any events that have happened to her in the past couple of years that may have triggered this weight gain.

It sounds like you are doing everything you can to teach her healthy lifestyle habits. Maybe get her signed up for a sport, so that she is getting excercise on a regular basis. Swimming is an excellent choice.

Stop defending your concern. Your daughter knows you just want what is best for her and that you want her to be healthy and happy. I think you are worrying too much what the doctor is going to think or say. If you know you have your daughter's health as your main concern, then your heart and your actions are in the right place. It's not about appearance, it's about physical and emotional health.

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S.H.

answers from Portland on

Hi D.,

I would suggest it probably is due to puberty. That age is the "fat" age of most girls and then they suddenly start their development and slim down again. It also might be worth having her thyroid checked just to be sure. I think you need to stop panicking though. You sound freaked out, which is definitely going to transfer to your daughter and make her feel terrible about herself at a very vulnerable time when self esteem is hard to come by. I would never ever want to relive those years of my life--yuck!!

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J.D.

answers from Portland on

D.-

I gained quite a bit of weight in my stomach when I was going through puberty, age 11-12. However, at around 14 my stomach went back to being a normal size. It may be the hormone levels affecting your daughter's weight gain.

I do think you should see a doctor and get her tested, but I would not stress her out about her weight. She probably is already self conscious about it, and you don't want to make it worse. My sister became anorexic because of her puberty weight gain, and it is a battle she still fights. As long as she is eating healthy and exercising, and you had her checked by her doctor, I would not bother her about her weight. I would just continue to teach her how to live a healthy lifestyle.

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V.D.

answers from Seattle on

was their anything that happened around the time she started gaining weight? It could be physical, did she start puberty? Has her height changed? She could be gaining like normal but getting bigger because she's not getting taller. Was there any tradjedies that could have affected her mentally? stress could cause weight gain. it could be her thyroid as well. i think seeing a doctor is a good idea. i would suggest talking to her doctor first, and if that doesn't help you, then seek out a weight specialist. you are right, this is not healthy. stomach fat is the most dangerous when it comes to leading to other health problems. try to tackle it early before it causes her problems. and in the mean time i would really suggest to not bother her about it. i'm sure it already bothers her and someone always talking about it will just make it harder.

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B.B.

answers from Portland on

Hi D.,
I would definately get her in to her MD soon. While it could be a simple thing, unexplained weight gain is always something to be concerned about. I work with a gyn oncologist and we have seen girls at 12 who looked 5-6 months pregnant and they had pelvic masses. I am not saying this to say this is what your daughter has but to let you know that it could be more than that she needs to diet. If you get her in with her pediatrician, he/she can coordinate care as needed with other specialists to find out what is going on.

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M.B.

answers from Portland on

I am having the same problem so when you find out what to do let me know. Does your child almost look like a toddler? her body type?

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B.M.

answers from Portland on

D.,
I agree with your decision to have a doctor check her out. It could be a hypothyroid problem, causing her to gain weight. Is she more tired than usual? Is she colder than usual? Hypothyroidism can slow everything down. It's not unusual for kids to go through growth spurts, they grow out, then up, out, then up...but this may be more, if she's gained that much weight in just a year and a half. Definately get it checked out...better to be safe than sorry!
B.

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J.W.

answers from Richland on

By all means take her to a doctor. Unexplained weight gain could signal a metaobolic problem or some other medical condition. If those are ruled out I still think you are right to seek help in light of the fact that obesity is such an epidemic these dyas. You're right its not a matter of vanity but more of quality of life.

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C.F.

answers from Portland on

First, I would disagree that doctors don't worry about kids being overweight. I am not a medical professional, but am a pediatric medical transcriptionist and my mom is also a nurse. Let me tell you, there are FAR more kids out there that are overweight than there are that are anorexic. I do not, in any way, want to downplay the dangers of being underweight (physically and psychologically). But there are also a huge amount of problems (physically and psychologically) to being overweight. I guess balance is everything. Anyway, to the doctors... largely, they worry when ANYONE is overweight. I don't know what website you are referring to, but I don't think it is typical of medical doctors. Choose a pediatrician or family practice doctor that will talk to you logically about these issues.

I'd ask about getting her thyroid checked, and also to be tested for diabetes. Sometimes, diabetes is genetic. It does not only come BECAUSE you are overweight... I think it can sometimes cause you to be overweight. (Not totally sure on that point.) At least, it can make it very hard to control weight.

Be careful with how you approach the issue with your daughter, because that can be so emotionally hard (I'm guessing you already know that)... but the key is to approach it and not ignore it. There really may be a medical issue here. If not, maybe you can be referred to a nutritionist.

Good luck... and good luck to your daughter.

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T.C.

answers from Portland on

D.,

When I started puberty, the weight came on. Hips, Belly, and Bust...when I was 24, I had to have a breast reduction. I am healthy, and all my doctors over the years have never found anything wrong.

The down side is that I have been previously diagnosed as having PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome); however, others say I do not have it...there is no standardization on this. PCOS can lead to weight and menstral problems. Most females end up with excessive hair and higher testosterone levels.

I have recently joined CURVES in my area and really enjoy working out with only women; less pressure on looks and body image issues (at least I feel that way). I have seen other young women there with their Moms or Grandmothers.

Talk openly with your daughter (like you are doing). It sounds as if she is as worried as you. Let her know that size isn't everything, it is health. Maybe a combined Mother/Daughter workout, even at home, would help keep her looking forward. If she is willing, I would find a good doctor to talk with that may help determine if there are any hormonal issues (or any other) affecting her weight.

I understand the frustration and worry, and wish your family the best health and happiness.

T.

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D.M.

answers from Anchorage on

Have her checked. She is obviously concerned so maybee you can even have her ask the questions as she is comming to the age of needing to learn about checking her own health and needing to ask someone about sensitive issues. Insist the doc do the normal checks for anyone who is gaining weight unusualy.

It is very normal for girls to add on a bit of weight pre-puberty. The body is warming up and all that extra stuff will be moving around. It sounds like the normal healthy time for extra weight. It seems to me that a nice round belly like she had as a baby is about right. If there are folds when she is just standing that may be too much.

There are only 2 times in life when your body CREATES fat cells (the rest of the time they just expand and shrink) -as a baby and puberty.

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V.V.

answers from Seattle on

Hi Diane,
I am not one to immediately jump to seeing a medical dr. first, but in this case, I think you should. There could be any number of things causing the weight gain, and ruling out things like juvenile diabetes or (highly unlikely but...) an ovarian or uterine tumor is vital. With diabetes running in the family you cant be to safe.
Also comes to mind that you might want to talk to dr. about food allergies. I met a woman recently who's daughter gained weight like you are describing (especially the belly) and it turns out she had serious food allergies.

I wish you and your daughter the best of luck,
Vicki
PS Always remember "free advice is worth what you paid for it":)

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B.E.

answers from Portland on

I'd have her checked for diabetes and/or thyroid problems. Weight gain is classic symptoms for both of these.

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A.H.

answers from Seattle on

Have her checked for PCOS. It can affect weight in young girls and make it very difficult to lose. The earlier you catch it the better.

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J.T.

answers from Portland on

Once you rule out an underlying medical problem such as wheat allergy, thyroid, hormone...) the most crucial next step is for you to accept her totally and completely exactly how she is right now. Emotional dispair is a much bigger problem then a few extra pounds around the middle.

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K.K.

answers from Seattle on

It sounds kind of normal to me... I went through a "chubby" stage when I started puberty. I remember having a bit of a belly and had breasts pretty early on - my period started at 12, so that might be it. I think you need to not make such a big deal about it. Sounds like she's self-conscious enough, but perhaps you should go to the doctor to make sure she doesn't have some kind of health condition and I hesitate to say it, but also to make sure she isn't actually pregnant.

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A.D.

answers from Seattle on

Have you tried exercising together? Make a bonding ritual, walking the neighborhood, bike riding, join the gym together etc. Have it be special mom and daughter time. Look at your parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles on both sides of the family--is she taking on a shape or size of family members/ancestors? If so, heredity could play a factor. Another thing to consider, did something happen a year and a half ago that had an impact on her emotionally? Exercising together and spending that quality time together may give her an opportunity to share with you if something did happen. Good luck.

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S.A.

answers from Seattle on

I have a thought for you. Has she started her period yet? I have been told by several doctors that girls will gain as much as 20 pounds before they start. My dtr is 12 1/2 and several of her friends gained weight in the belly area only. Once they started and had their growth spurt they are a healthy size again. just a thought.

S.

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M.B.

answers from Seattle on

Get to a doctor and make sure you are not dealing with a medical problem already. Weight gain can be a sign of other medical issues. Just make sure your daughter's healthy and then take the problem for what it is and try not to damage her self esteem, since she is probably already dealing with issues there. As long as she is forming healthy habits now it could be okay. If you really feel that something is wrong find a doctor that will listen.

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M.W.

answers from Seattle on

lots of great previous responses here!

Some thoughts:
1. My mother started to be concerned about my weight at puberty when I developed hips and breasts before my friends (I had to wear a bra in late 5th grade which was very awkward)...she went the whole "no junk in the house" route and I will tell you--I snuck junk food any time I wasn't home. It was a long time before I learned how to moderate the intake of "treats". This didn't necessarily impact my weight because I was extremely active, but it did make me feel incredibly guilty at times--like I was letting mom down.

2. Zoe's post had a great list of reasons why you really do need to see the doc. Find one who specializes in pre/pubescence/adolescence.

3. Talk to your daughter, alone, one-on-one about her situation. Ask questions, listen to her, try not to "preach" or "plead"...empower her to feel comfortable with your concerns for her, not overwhelmed by them. Remember what it's like to be her age; it's very hard to understand that Mom means well and isn't just pressuring/bugging you. Even if she's concerned about it too--it doesn't mean she's feeling it the same way you are. She is the one who has to "live" it daily, imagine being the only one in your immediate family with that issue.

4. I recently was able to lose my belly fat weight (post-partum) by eating small meals 5 times a day, as opposed to 3 bigger meals a day. My naturopath said it stimulated my metabolism. Perhaps consult a nutritionist/dietician about a way of eating that will stimulate her metabolism. It might very well be slowing down due to pre-onset of menstruation.

Hopefully, once her body adjusts to puberty--she'll trim down and adjust well!
Best wishes.

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

I would look for a woman pediatrician. Then I would see if I could have a pre-visit or phone visit first to voice your concerns without having your child there. That way your child does not become an object. When your child has the visit. I would let your child and doctor do most of the talking. I would be there for support of your child, but not take center stage or be the mouthpiece for your daughter. By 12 she is old enough to say her own concerns. If she asks for help, by all means give it, but don't volunteer it before she asks.

I do think your concerns are valid. I think you should get a doctor's input as soon as possible. Woman doctor. W.

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S.B.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,
I commend you for making your situation a priority. We all want our kids to be healthy and weight is a touchy subject, especially with our girls who can take it as being an insult instead of a health concern. I have a 13 year old wants to try the vegetarian diet. However she gets hungry and chooses unhealthy snacks. At school, I have no control, so she's snacking on junk. When she first started this diet she lost several pounds. Not having anything to lose to start made me very concerned. My suggestion to you would be to make an appointment with her pediatrician and go without her. This would allow you to speak to the doctor openly without hurting her feelings. The doctor would have her records and be able to look back at any unusual weight issue. You might want to ask the doctor about a thyroid issue as well.
For my other daughter, who has a bit of a tummy on her but slim everywhere else, we started taking a class together. I still have baby weight and I hate the look of my tummy. I didn't want to go alone and I really like spending time with one kid at a time. Taking my daughter with me was a fun (and exhausting) way for us to hang out and get in better shape together. Talk to your daughter and see if she wants to take a class with you or even do some exercise at home... maybe get a video or something and make it a Mom and Me thing! She'll love spending the time with you and you don't have to tell her it's more for her than yourself. Make it seem like you want to get in better shape and need a buddy to make the journey!

S. from Bonney Lake. Wife of one. Mother of three (girls 13 and 11, little man 2 1/2)

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W.E.

answers from Portland on

D. -

All I can give you is that nutrition plans a part in our bodies. Our family is on a wellness plan. When our bodies get what they need, they work properly. Go to www.exploremannatech.com to have it explained to you.

Let me know if you what you think

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K.M.

answers from Portland on

I feel you're right to be proactive in your daughter's health. Maybe a couple of things to think about are puberty (has she started her menstrual cycle? is she getting ready to? has her body began one of many dramatic changes of this stage?), or perhaps thyroid issues. Of course there are so many different things it could be, and simply over-eating or eating wrong are not the only concerns. It seems taking your daughter to see a doctor to rule out any serious medical issues, especially with diabetes in the family, would be a very responsible thing to do. Anorexia is very real, yes, but it sounds like you talk to your daughter quite openly and honestly about the difference between appearance and health. This should help her feel a little better about trying to make sure she's healthy above having a "good figure", even though this age is such a tough one for kids. Keep the lines of communication wide open with her, and I am a strong advocate of getting physicians involved. Better to do it now before a potentially worse problem surfaces later in her life that could have been treated early or possibly prevented. And if it turns out to be nothing medically wrong, praise the Lord! Then you can re-evaluate her diet and exercise. Good luck to you both!

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S.W.

answers from Portland on

Stress can cause weight gain. Find some outlets that encourage stress releif and maybe a bit of self acceptance. What a horrible age to not feel great about yourself.

I really think highly of the accupuncturist because I truely feel it is a "reset" to the nervous system. I know of a sliding scale place in NE Portland that I pay $15 a visit.

I also love a good workout class-- yoga, pilates, body flow, etc. and it really isn't for the exercise but stress management. I think you could have a really good bonding time with your daughter if both of you go and try a few things.

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L.S.

answers from Seattle on

I think that you are way over analyzing this entire situation. She is 12 years old. It seems as though you are applying a lot of pressure and this may end up creating greater long term self esteem issues for your daughter than anything else. The last thing a girl needs on the brink of tennager-hood is a mother nagging her about weight/appearance issues. Back off or you will have a very unhappy daughter.

If there truly is an obeseity or sharp weight increase concern, perhaps consult a pediatrician regarding a thyroid issue?

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B.P.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,

I'm sure others have touched in this as well but I feel it is *very* important to remind you that your daughter is in a very tough, formative age. She has likely started puberty, and with that comes hormones.. and hormones, you guessed it, can cause weight issues. I think taking her in for a physical and glucose and thyroid tests are a good idea as a pre screening for diabetes and hypothyroid. It very well may be that she's just at an age where hormones are RAGING and her adult body is starting to take shape. If it isnt an endocrine issue and her diet is healthy and she isnt sedentary, I would let it be. It could very well be that as she grows into her adult body, she will get more proportionate. Be very, very careful though.. girls at this age are forming their ideas of who they are, what they believe they're worth and what beauty is. Be sure to encourage healthful habits to *FEEL* good, not to *LOOK* good..encourage her to set fitness goals not related to her size, but related to her abilities and it helps to work on these goals together.. like "I really want to try to run a 5k marathon but I don't want to do it alone, will you do it with me?" .. you can make training a bonding time! I do yoga three nights a week with my seven year old.. it's a time for us to wind down together and relax and it's setting a positive example about the benefits of excercise and meditation.. These are all just suggestions.. find something that you both enjoy that is active..

hope it helps!

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J.T.

answers from Louisville on

Oh my goodness! I can't believe a dr website stated that! I have to agree with the others, it could be puberty related and could be a medical problem.

Fortunately I work with several doctors that have acknowledged the obesity problem we have with children today. The increased diagnosis of diabetes and heart disease has been astounding. I've never been one to personally worry about overweight children at a very young age as once they get active they loose the weight. 12 however, is not the age to let it go by. My oldest is 12 and was starting to gain weight after moving here from Texas. The reason, the loss of our 1 acre back yard! I've since put her and her sister in gymnastics and have noticed the weight is coming off.

Please don't look into fad diets for your daughter and please don't make the comment of her starting a diet. This is a huge cause of anorexia in teens after they've had a weight gaining issue. Increased activity, increased water intake and portion control are the best things you can do. It's difficult because at this time in her life she is needing more nutrition so probably eating a little more than usual. I know my 12 yr old eats as much as my husband right now. Does she take a daily multi-vitamin? It could also be an issue with diabetes or her thyroid. With the middle gain, I would certainly look at other signs and symptoms of diabetes problems. I don't want to scare you, but please don't ignore the problem. Take her to her pediatrician and at least see what they think.

Our very best to you both.

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A.S.

answers from Richland on

Hi D.,
It may just be how her body is growing as it goes through all it's stages. My sister was the only one that was really chubby when we were young and with comments made by family and friends she today doesn't think much of herself, and I remember catching her when she was comfort eating in her room which made things 10 times worse for her.
I was called a toothpick till I reached puberty and when I first started my period I would get really badly bloated, more so than today, though that wasn't focused on because of other health issues that came to be known at the same time, and I think because my weight was never focused on I never felt I was fat and never got fat because I kept my confidence, don't let your daughter lose that because of worries, she probably has enough to deal with in school with homework and friends.

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B.S.

answers from Spokane on

I would have her thyroid checked out!! Same thing happened with our daughter. I have thyroid problems, but mine stared after her birth almost 18 years ago. The doctor told my to keep an eye out for some the symptoms. I had her go in for her checkup and guess what? Bingo! Good luck!!

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J.T.

answers from Portland on

D.,
I have a wonderful pediatrician that takes things like the national obesity issue & the associated health risks seriously. He is an MD that concentrates on the naturopatic side of medicine. He's WONDERFUL!! His name is Dr. Paul Thomas & his practice name is Integrative Pediactrics. The office is off of Barnes Rd in Beaverton. The number is: ###-###-####. I hope you find an answer that works for both you & your daughter.

Sincerely,
J.

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D.L.

answers from Seattle on

D.,, I hate to even ask this,, but do you think she maybe pregnant?? you never know these days what are kids are doing,, we all think we as parents know what they are doing,, but we don't always,,it doesn't mean your daughter is bad ,, if she is pregnant,, just means she is having a baby,,and you need to be there to support her in the things to come,, good luck,, please keep in touch with me,,k,, I only care,, I too have a daughter who was gaining weight,, and all the rest of us are pretty slim,, and yep,, sure enough,, 5 months PG,, and yes we are keeping the baby,,all is good and will be with you two,, if that's the case,,you can buy a PG test at the dollar store near you,, you will know in seconds,, that's what we did,, hugs,, D. [email protected]____.com PS,, if not,, take her to the Dr and have all her patuatary glands checked out,,

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F.G.

answers from Anchorage on

honestly i think you have a right to be concerned. and if you are really giving her healthy food and she is getting enough active play i would be concerned that she may have a thyroid issue. you may want to visit an endocrinologist to get her thyroid levels checked just to be on the safe side.

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S.H.

answers from Portland on

Has she gone through puberty yet? I was a "chunky" girl until high school (when I went through puberty-late bloomer) and then I slimmed down dramatically. It sounds like you have provided a healthy lifestyle for your daughter and that your daughter has taken to it. If it bothers her, perhaps take her to her doctor and let her discuss what is going on (so that it isn't you talking for her). Perhaps there is a medical issue going on (like a thyroid condition???). But it is crucial you make this about her health and her needs and not about her gaining weight and getting "bigger and bigger." My own mom was anorexic and I remember so many times her making comments about how my butt was getting big and how fat I was looking (and I was a size 3). It hurt me deeply…especially because moms are supposed to love you unconditionally. Consider how your daughter feels, especially if everyone else in the family is at a "healthy" weight before you talk with her. Good luck.

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D.H.

answers from Portland on

Did the doctor do blood tests? Maybe they should check for a different problem like thyroid or diabetes. Make sure they do a fasting test re diabetes. Some things even we think are healthy could be a problem for her. For your own piece of mind DEMAND the tests, don't let them talk you out of them. It sounds like you think this is abnormal, go with your intuition. Good luck.

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K.S.

answers from Portland on

Hi,

I agree with many of the moms who have responded. Your daughter is going to have enough to be self-conscious about as she enters puberty. Please don't add to it. She needs your support right now, not your criticism. Weight gain is something almost all pre-teen girls go through as their bodies develop fully. Don't make the mistake of making comments that you will both regret when you look back 10, 20, 30 years from now. Love her as she is.

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C.T.

answers from Seattle on

I think your concerns are justified given the family medical history. Maybe you can go and talk to the doctor without your daughter present. That way you can voice your concerns and there is no pressure on your daughter. I am wondering if she is having thyroid problems. My mom has a history of thyroid problems and no matter how little she eats she still is over weight.
God bless you.

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H.P.

answers from Seattle on

You are right to be concerned about this type of weight gain. Did it coincide with her getting her period? That can happen with puberty. I would take her to a specialist called an "endocrinologist" and have her THYROID tested. Some changes like puberty or pregnancy can cause hypothyroidism that can account for both weight gain regardless of diet and other symptoms like a lack of energy or even depression. You mentioned your husband's family having some members like this and that also would make me watch that thyroid because THEY might have started with hypothyroidism and developed into a basic metabolic disorder that resulted in diabetesII. This happened to my Mom who was a "Fat Woman" most of her adult life. She was not an overweight child, although short and stocky but gained weight steadily in her early twenties until she desperately used diet pills and got "super skinny" by losing 50 lbs. Well, She had to quit the diet pills which were basically amphetamines (1960s) because they were harming her kidneys and heart. Within six months she gained back all the weight she lost and then almost 50lbs more. No matter what she tried after that, it resulted in minimal weight loss with "gain back" within weeks. When I was pregnant at age 35, I insisted that my Mother be tested for type II diabetes because it would directly impact my health. She was 53 and probably had diabetes for a few years already. She also had an almost non functioning thyroid along with the serious complications that go with that. IF she had been diagnose years earlier, it might have saved her a lifetime of discouragment and heartache trying to lose weight and then getting diabetes. I have been taking Levothyroxine, which is a daily pill for over ten years to keep my thyroid at a normal level but I also spend most of my life "ramming my weight down with a rod", which is discouraging but necessary. I don't use diets because they don't work and I dure don't want a more damaging gain back. Instead, I watch what I eat using the glycemic index (like a diabetic) and I am tested for diabetes, thyroid problems, tryglicerides, cholesterol, etc. every year to spot small problems before they become big ones. I also run 5 miles a day on a treadmill. That keeps my metabolism burning calories.

Another issue to rule out is PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which causes incredible weight gain on almost no food, especially to the middle. My friend had that and it really screwed up her metabolism, fertility and her life because it also wasn't diagnosed at the onset. She spent her twenties exercising three hours a day with aerobics and running along with only two small meals a day only to ram herself down to a size 16.

The point that I want to make is that you are right. Don't waste your time with pediatricians or any general doctors but get a specialists opinion and rule out any of these conditions that may contribute to your daughter's problem, then get the best treatment available. Tell your daughter that this weight issue may not be a result of poor diet and exercise choices on her part but you want to help her with this problem by ruling out medical conditions that can cause this. The faster you can address this issue, the better for her self esteem and the less likely she is to turn to drastic measures like disordered eating as an attempt to address it herself.

Good luck and you may contact me if I can help with any other information on my condition or medication. I am willing to share because I know how hard it is to live with the stigma of being overweight in this society while struggling to control it.

H.

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C.P.

answers from Bellingham on

I most certainly would not ignore the risk of diabetes. My 12 year old daughter has been overweight but not obese since she started puberty when she was 8. I would take her to a doctor for sure. My pediatrician talks to me about my girls weight at every check up. She has some depression issues and is developing the habit of being an emotional eater (like her mama). I dont keep junk food in the house unless its a special occasion. But another culprit to weight gain is carbohydrates. Try switching to whole grain pastas and breads so that she is getting complex carbs as opposed to the simple ones. Look up diabetic diets online and try to follow those. Its not an unhealthy way to eat and she will lose weight too. The important thing is to make family lifestyle changes as opposed to singling her out. Self-esteem issues can arise from this. The thing about puberty is kinda true too, again my daughter hit puberty when she was 8 and gained weight but didnt start her periods for 2 years after that. There are so many could be's about what is going on with her. Another thing is getting her into some sort of physical activity such as dance classes, karate, gymnastics, swimming...My kids do karate and they love it. It helps with so many things not just being physically fit. I suffered from anorexia when i was a child and i know that stemmed from emotional issues i have to wonder if obesity does too? Maybe see a counselor?

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B.F.

answers from Portland on

This seems to me like the sort of issue that a naturopathic physician has more training to help you withm (relative to an MD). And I'm not down on MDs. Hopefully she won't need one for diabetes someday, if you work on maximizing your family wellness while she's young.

Good luck.

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A.M.

answers from Portland on

It sounds like someone has already made you feel bad about your concerns, but the truth is childhood obesity is a concern and most certainly on a doctors radar. My daughter is only 2.5 and is slim, but already her doctor talks to me about obesity issues when I ask questions like, "should I continue with the whole milk now that she's past two or change to 2%?"

She's obviosly hitting puberty right? But if she's gaining a lot of weight really quickly than it could be more serious like a thyroid problem. Better to check it out now. And if everything is fine and she's just going through an awkward phase...thank goodness.

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H.G.

answers from Portland on

It may be hormonal. I started packing on the pounds at 15, I got up to 140 pounds but, by 17 they had come off and I was 117 pounds I am 5 feet 6 inches tall. Even thought I was healthy at the heaver weight I didn't like it. I was always skinny too. I just kept playig sports like I always did.

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B.M.

answers from Seattle on

D.-

With the rates of childhood obesity these days, many doctors are just as concerned about children being overweight as underweight.

Most family practice Dr's and pediatricians are very sensitive in the way they approach pre-teen girls on body image issues, so don't hesitate to get her checked. Bring up your concerns (diabetes, thyroid, etc) because the doctor may not ask!

If she's gained her weight around the middle, I agree with the other moms that suggest stress. Puberty is a very stressful time from what I remember.

I've been struggling with my weight most of my life, personally. My mom helped me the best she knew how and I always appreciated my mom's help and concern.

I'm glucose-sensitive (not diabetic, yet.) So I notice the days that I "indulge" in too many carbs result in weight gain later in the week. You may want to think about making sure she's getting less carbs (even fruit) and more protein. Almonds and peanut butter are great for snacking if she's not allergic. Making sure she starts her day with a small portion of protien with breakfast can help, too. I like lunchmeat on toast or a bowl of lowfat cottage cheese.

Wishing you and your daughter the best!
-B. M.-

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K.Z.

answers from Seattle on

With childhood obesity on the rise, it's outweighing girls with anorexia.(in numbers only, not importance) I can't imagine anyone giving you grief over your concern. The first thing that comes to my mind is going to a doctor! Check out that tummy. Is there a tumor? Is it tender?
I agree that this time in a girls life is scary and full of self doubt, but let's not let get crazy and NOT talk about what's really going on. What kind of message does THAT send? If it turns out she's fine and that's her body type, GREAT! Why the change? If it's puberty..again,GREAT..everything is going as nature planned. What if it's truly a health risk? Let's not live in fear of our teenage girls...let's teach them to be honest and DEAL with reality.(ie...I've suddenly experienced a significant change in my body, maybe I should make sure everythings ok!) I read alot of these posts and I can't believe it when I see "love her as she is" ...I have a special needs child and I love him as he is...I ALSO GET HIM HELP WHEN HE NEEDS IT. What happened to common sense? I think you're doing the right thing by addressing it. Teach her to care for herself now and she will thank you later.

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L.B.

answers from Richland on

Hi,
You said your daughter is 12, and usually active and eats healthy? Another thing to keep in mind is that children go through alot of changes as they grow, especially when they are getting ready to go throuch puberty.Also there are alot of medical conditions that can cause unusuall weight gain.Such as thyroid, and adrenal gland problems, and many others.
Im sure if she continues eating balanced meals with lots of nutrients and being active she will grow out of it. I can tell you from personal experience that if you focus on it , and make her eat diet foods it will probably make things worse. My mother did that with me , and every chance I had to get a none diet meal or snack I did, and I over did it. As I got older and more independant I would eat mostly fast food because I was never alowd as a child.
So I beg you to not make a huge deal out of this. Keep her eating balanced nutrient rich meals,ocasional goodies, keep her active with out nagging her, and watch her grow into a beautiful healthy young woman.

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N.B.

answers from Seattle on

If the weight gain is rapid, I would ask the doctor for a thyroid testing.

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A.H.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,
I have always been a big girl, and just recently (last year and half) have I tried to do something about it. I guess I have done growing up (in my mind) And realized I needed to do something about it.

My sister and I have different dads, however both sides of the family hers and mine, are both on the bigger side. She is skinny and me the complete opposite. So I know it has some do to with family. She could just have the gene that says she is supposed to be bigger then the rest of your family... However, Big doesn't mean she has to be overweight, obese.

I think you are doing a great job as working with her and letting her know that you aren't nagging her about being "fat." You are letting her know that it is important to eat right and excercise for health reasons, and not developing diabeties.

I would talk to her doctor before hand. Maybe make an appointment and just you go in, and say these are my concerns, I would like you to check out my daughter, and I want you to take my valid concerns serious and not just pass it off as me trying to be a picky mom and have the perfect size daughter. Tell him that you don't want to scare your daughter, but want to check out the medical side of the problem, maybe it is her thyroid, or some other medical problem that can be taken care of medically. And then if he still isn't going to agree with you, about doing it carefully, then I would find another doc that says he will be careful about how he talks to your daughter.

Good luck, and I wish you well.
A.

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A.C.

answers from Portland on

Your concern is absoultely valid! And I don't think a good doctor would do that....I least I hope not. I just went to my doctor yesterday because I am trying to shed some weight, and am having a hard time getting it off. He set up an appointment for me to see a nutritionist. At first I thought, why do I need to do that, I know how to eat healthy and I am exercising! But they can actually look at your body type and age and help tailor a diet that works for you. So that may be a route to go. Another thought would be to get her thyroid checked out. And then lastly, it may be genetic, and she is just going to have to work harder than her peers do at this age to keep weight off. This is how it has always been with me! So I am talking like aerobic exercise on a regular basis, combined with healthy eating. My advice though, would be to give your daughter some ideas about what she can do to help solve the problem, but only when she brings it up. I think you have to be really careful at this pre-teen stage not to lower her self-confidence....she really is fragile right now! Just make sure you promote self-esteem and beauty to the fullest degree!! Does her father praise her for her beauty? I know that was huge for me...I didn't have that during my teen years! Anyway, sorry for rambling on! Sounds like you are doing a great job!

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H.B.

answers from Seattle on

When I was her age, I had a "tummy", but it wasn't huge. I was 5 ft tall and 120 lbs with size C cup boobs. It was terrible. The summer and fall of my freshman year of high school (the summer I turned 14) I grew 4 inches in less than a year. I didn't gain 1 pound. I went from looking fat and awkward to almost anorexic (my mom's words not mine). My tummy went away, I had grown into my boobs, and I started to feel less awkward with myself.
My 12 year old son, is going through the same thing now. He's always been a healthy kid (80-90th percentile for height and weight). We don't have any junk food in the house, and we rarely eat out or get fast food, and I never make pre-packaged or processed foods. My son only wants to play 1 sport-Football, in which they work him 2 hours of conditioning for the first week, and then 1 hour of conditioning, running, and then practice plays. He usually loses 5 pounds during football.
I would take her to her doctor and have some blood work drawn up. Make sure she doesn't have thyroid issues or something else.
If you aren't happy what your doctor says (all tests are negative), I would see a nutritionist to see what they think. I have delt with nutritionist's before for my 6 year old (he was on a feeding machine-it's a long story) I read the comment about joining Curves, and that is a good solution as well. My husband took our 12 year old to Golds Gym a few times as well. I think working out together is a great idea, and it will give you two some time to talk and bond with her, and also making her feel like she isn't alone.

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M.L.

answers from Seattle on

I would try to get her into some sort of sports program. Is there any sport (team or individual) that she is interested in? I'm pre-diabetic and I was told that regular exercise is the best way to stave off Type II, with diet good as well -- but between the two, the exercise is really the key.

I started competitive swimming when I was her age (although I knew how to swim, just hadn't swum for speed) -- I was a bit behind my peers who had started earlier, but I caught up relatively quickly. Is there anything like that she'd like to do?

J.S.

answers from Seattle on

I think going to get a check-up and full panel of bloodwork is a good idea (ask about TSH levels), just make sure that your daughter understands that her health is your concern, not her appearance. You are concerned because you want her to be healthy, not because you couldn't stand having a "fat" daughter. Large and tiny are beautiful as long as they are healthy. But too large for age/height usually indicates a health imbalance somewhere.
Try to assess other areas of your daughter's life that MD's don't ask too much about anymore, such as changes in behavior in the last year and a half, interests, activities, habits. All clues can help lead to a bigger picture.

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J.B.

answers from Portland on

I hope for your daughter's sake that the other women on this board are correct and she is just gaining a little pre-mensus weight. However, I was a child who was healthy thin until puberty. I began gaining weight around puberty. My family has a strong history of Diabetes. I never had a regular cycle, and I have faced/am facing a wide variety of health issues. I have a condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Your daughter should absolutely be checked for this condition with the symptoms you are describing just to rule it out.

The best doctor to get a diagnosis from tend to be ob/gyns and doctors that treat infertility problems such as reproductive endocronologists. The best tests are run early in the menstral cycle and check the balance of FSH to LH. Those are two hormones involved in the release of ova. Many doctors do not take this condition seriously. Many people blame the people who have the condition and treat them as if they have a major eating issue.

However, 1 in 10 women have PCOS in varying degrees. It is caused by a GENETICALLY passed problem called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs at a cellular level. Insulin is the hormone which brings each cell food by reacting with a second hormone located on the surface of the cells. In someone who is insulin resistant the chemical compond on the cells is slightly wrong. This makes it hard for the insulin to push the food into the individual cells. In order to get the food out of the blood stream the pancreas increases insulin production. This keeps the blood sugar levels normal for a while, but eventually the pancreas tends to wear out. In reaction to not getting enough food, many of the cells in the body behave incorrectly. Those cells are not getting the nutrients they need no matter how well the individual eats. Cells tend to store extra fat because they are not getting fed regularly. The menstral cycle tends to be irregular. Other hormone levels are effected. For instance, the body produces too much testosterone which causes male pattern hair issues such as balding and/or facial beards. Eventually, left untreated it can become diabetes.

My first symptoms were weight gain and irregular periods. As I have progressed, I have gotten a beard, completely stopped having a period, and had a lot of problems getting pregnant. I am now diabetic as well. I was diagnosed in a time when treatment for the condition was not well formed. Now there is a lot more that can be done. If she has this, let me know and I will get you the information for the support group for it on the web.

I am not saying she has this condition, just that you should definately check it out. Also if she has it, she is going to need love and support and NOT the food police.

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S.R.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,

Call around and try to find a nutritionally oriented doctor. They can be hard to find but in the NW you start with the ND's and ARNP's (nurse practitioners). You could also call the dietians or licensed nutritional counselors in your area and see if they have any recommendations for docs or otherwise - like diet changes that would support both the growth that is typical of this age and fat loss. Your daughter could just need to hear it from one of them or she could have a hormonal imbalance (maybe puberty) or something along those lines that is not helping the situation. Just thoughts on my part. I think that you definitely want to find someone who will not tell you to just let it go and not worry, as that will teach her that she can do whatever to her body. That being said however, I also think that you need to be sure that your daughter isn't learning to hate her body right now. If she starts hating her body now she will have a hard time learning to like/love it in the future and it will be a constant struggle and source of stress for your daughter for the rest of her life. Be sure she understands that it is not about looks but about life-long health and that you love her just the way she is and always will and you want to help her be healthy. The social pressure at this age is huge these days, so really encourage your daughter to look upon her body as a gift that needs her loving attention both physically and mentally. (Meaning trying to limit the negative thoughts she has about her body and watching her diet and exercise with non-judgmental eyes. Everybody needs a day off sometimes.) I am sure that you know all this already and just need confirmation on your instincts from others. I think your instincts are right on.

Good Luck,
S.

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A.S.

answers from Eugene on

I think, actually, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a doctor to work with on this issue. The tide is turning and many pediatricians and family doctors are working hard to stem the flow of children into a lifetime of obesity.
On a more personal note, I know from personal experience that this age can be very difficult emotionally and that sometimes sneaking food can be a comfort. This may be happening more than you realize. I know I became an expert at this and my mom had no idea what was going on. Because I was unable to deal with the issue as a teen, I have continued to fight with it my whole life. I wish my mom had caught me sneaking food and got me some help.
I sincerely wish you and your daughter good health.
Best wishes, A.

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M.L.

answers from Seattle on

Have you had her thyroid checked? She probably started gaining her weight when she started the hormonal changes of pueberty. Also, as someone who's a little on the chubby side myself, don't harp on her about it if she understands. That will make her feel bad about herself. Instead, do activities with her for the fun of it, not because you want her slender. Make sure she knows you love her first and foremost.

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E.M.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D., she could have a thyroid problem, I would suggest you take her in for a check up with the doctor.
Good luck.
E.

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S.C.

answers from Seattle on

My teens have the same problem. Both skin and bones until about 12 then put on too much weight. I have had tests done to see if it is a medical problem- they have been to nutritionist etc... I have one in size 14 and one in size 11, They are both bothered by their weight. I watch what they eat and how much as well as make sure that they have physical activity daily. They are not loosing, but have not gained any more.

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D.C.

answers from Medford on

I'm glad to hear that you're paying attention to what's going on & it's also good to hear that she is concerned too. It's amazing to me to hear all the statistics about the health issues are children are dealing with today because of their inactive lifestyles & eating habits. I'm also appalled that our society in general isn't doing anything about it...so good for you!!

Is it possible for you to talk to a dietician who specializes in kids, by yourself first? Just be very upfront about this, your concerns for her health and that this is NOT just a vanity issue. ( that doesn't mean that her self image is not important too, we just don't want it to be the all consuming problem leading to eating disorders) That way you'll get a feel for the doctor's attitude toward this kind of thing without your daughter there. Once your comfortable that he/she will be your partner in this you can bring her in for an evaluation. It's kind of odd that she's the only one who's having this problem & that she continues to gain weight, so it's super important that there isn't a medical issue causing this.
Also, just a side note, my step daughter was never fat but just a little chunky as she was growing up. Once she hit puberty she thinned right out and got curves where she was supposed too, so that's something to keep in mind too.
So make it a family affair and not so much focused on just her. If she see's everybody working towards being healthy she won't feel like this is just about her. Set aside a few days a week that the family as a whole goes for a walk or to the gym. Maybe one day a week the family goes out for a special treat for eating well & staying on a routine as a reward.
I'm glad to hear you're realistic enough to tackle this problem early on. Too many parents ignore it and the children go on to adulthood very overweight & unable to develop the discipline needed to get the weight off. Start her now and she'll keep the good eating habits as she becomes an adult.
good luck :-)

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A.H.

answers from Portland on

Please be certain that the doctor will be sensitive to her and strongly consider a children's counselor who specializes in girls' puberty and body image issues. If she is "very upset" about it, the emotional factor is definitely in play. Stress and anxiety cause cortisol production, which causes belly fat and the health problems associated with it.
http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/cortisol.htm

A wonderful resource for girls:

http://www.maidenspirit.com/index.html

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V.G.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,

I can appreciate your concerns. I don't have any daughters, but one of my sons starting putting on some weight at about the same age. I, too tried to have only healthy foods at meals and didn't buy soda or other sugary snacks, but of course we can't control what our kids eat when they're not at home.

I think the key is to help her find physical activities that she will enjoy plus help her burn calories. It may work better if you can do something with her. For example I have a friend who helped her daughter lose weight and also had some great "gals only" bonding time by going to the gym together several times a week.

I think focusing all or most of your fun times together on activities that involve excercise will help her look forward to participating. You could do walks or runs together every day, go bike riding, take horsebackriding lessons together, plan and go on hikes together. I wouldn't mention anything about her weight when doing these things or necessarily tell her that's why you want to take a bike ride or a hike. It might make her feel negative about doing the activities.

I was fortunate that my son liked sports and outdoor activities so I kept him as active as possible and as he grew taller he lost some of the chubbiness. He's in his 30s now and is probably 20-30 pounds above his ideal weight but is not particularly overweight.

Hope this helps!

V.

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C.H.

answers from Seattle on

This is a very tough situation because your daughter's physical and her emotional health are on the table. She is at such a crucial time in her life when acceptance of who she is is incredibly important.

If her family line has this body type, you're not going to be able to change it but that doesn't mean giving in. It sounds like you're already doing things that provide a healthy lifestyle of your family - food, exercise, playing, etc.

It seems like she'd be in the early stages of puberty and so I wonder if a female ob/gyn that you trust would be helpful. She may not need an exam just yet but talking to a doctor who understands the female body and the changes your daughter's going through (physically and emotionally) may be a safe place for you and your daughter to ask questions.

I'm sure your daughter is very aware of the changes in her body and isn't happy with them. Whether your choices are based on physical health or physical appearance may not matter in your daughter's mind. At 12, kids' minds aren't able separate and understand things the way adults can. She needs to accept who she is and make healthy choices for her and it sounds like you're teaching her how. It's hard to accept ourselves and at 12 it's even harder.

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E.A.

answers from Seattle on

Hi D.,
My daughter went thru the same thing at about 14, she is now 23. This is a very sensitive subject and seems like no matter what you do, how you say it, your daughter takes it as a personal attack. You'll have to think 10 times before you say one thing as you don't want her to beleive that the only thing you are concerned about is her weight gain.

We've always ate relatively healthy in our house but what I've come to know is that all of us have a different way of reacting to the same food. Perhaps she has an allergy to a food (wheat, salt, etc.)

We'd walk in the evenings, even tried out a personal trainer, nothing seemed to work. Then my daughter had what seemed like a 24hr bug that just wouldn't go away, so off to the doctor we went. After much testing we found out that she had a problem with her thyroid and was in large part the cause of her weight problem. A few months later we found that she also has IBS. So now that she's aware of what's going on she keeps a close watch on her diet and exercises (not to be a size 4 but to keep herself toned).

Has your daugher started her period? If so, there will be a change in her body as it goes thru this huge adjustment. That's when my daughter started her weight gain.

I would recommend a doctor's appointment but also look into programs that are geared toward teen girls building self esteem, positive outlook on life and not just losing weight.

Be there for your daughter, this is a very difficult time for her. E.

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D.D.

answers from Seattle on

Have her thyroid and adrenal levels checked. If either of these are out of whack, they can also cause weight gain.

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A.C.

answers from Eugene on

Speaking as a kid who started to gain weight at the age of 15 16 years of age, I commend you for your attention to this problem. Yes it is something to deal with. I have not been able to loose the wieght, and am now really struggling with it. I wish my mom had done something with me besides nag at me about my wieght. All the nagging did was just upset me wich made me eat more. Nasty cycle began. Going to the Dr. is good, but have you thought of maybe getting her into a gym. I was going to one and it gave me lots of energy and helped me. What about getting her into an organized sport through her school, or even through like a sports program. I dont know where you are from, but I live in Oregon and we have Kids Sports. Does foot ball, baseball, soft ball, basketball and all kinds of sports. What would have really helped me, is someone helping me, making me feel good about myself. The nagging my mother did to me, and continues to do to me, does not help. All it does is make me feel like a heel. My mom doesnt seem to understand this. I try to tell her to just leave me alone, but she wont. It doesnt help. Make sure she knows you love her no matter what, and be there for her and help support her. You may even need to be the kick in the pants for her everyonce in a while.

I hope all goes well and your daughter is able to get healty.

M.B.

answers from Seattle on

D.,

I applaud you for staying on top of your daughter's weight problem. It sounds like you have the diet thing under control. At this point I *would* take her to a doctor, and if they blow you off get a second, third or fourth opinion. Keep going until you find a doctor that sees, and respects your concerns.

Both sides of my family have a history of diabetes. My paternal grandfather had to take insulin daily, my mother could control hers with medication and diet. Seeing the sugar lows of my grandfather because he wouldn't do what he was supposed to were rather traumatic to a child under 10 (my dad and I lived with his parents until I was 10).

Good for you for trying to balance concern with nagging. I think you're on the right path to getting help for your daughter.

Just thought of something else. My sister doesn't have that signal from her stomach to brain saying that she's full. She also doesn't have the signals telling her that she's hungry. She really needs to monitor the last time she ate (she'll get super grouchy when she's hungry and doesn't realize it), and how much she eats at a sitting.

Hope this helps,
Melissa

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B.K.

answers from Seattle on

Have her hormone levels and Thyroid checked. make sure its an extensive style of testing for both. Defifinately get a doctor working with you right away. Good luck Roberta

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N.M.

answers from Portland on

I read through a few of the responses here, you have received so many wonderful ones. Most of the ones I saw were related to weight gain as a food/exercise related or thyroid issue. I would definately have her examined by a doctor. I had a friend who's sister went through a similar weight gain, she was in her later teens, alot of gain in the belly. It turned out she had a tumor, benign - Thank God, but it was very large. She was, well, we all were, shocked. Just thinking she was gaining weight. The tumor was removed and all is well now. I don't mean to scare you at all but it's worth having a doctor give your daughter a good once-over just to rule out all other possibilities.
Good Luck!

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