Weight Gain in Tween Girl - Should I Ask the Doctor?

Updated on October 30, 2011
M.C. asks from Lewisville, TX
18 answers

My daughter who recently turned 11 has always been very, very slim. We've always had to buy pants that come in slim sizes and she could usually wear them for a couple of years - at least until they were too short. She's a slow, but steady grower. Always about average in height and considerably below average in weight according to our doctor's percentile charts. As of this past summer, she has a noticeable tummy and the shorts and pants we bought just a few months ago are already too tight. Now, I'm not at all worried about the way she looks, I'm just concerned about this sudden change. Nothing in her diet has really changed, nor in her lifestyle/exercise patterns. Other than some allergy-related congestion, she is healthy. Should I call the doctor about this or is this just a young girl going through puberty and experiencing body changes? Anyone have any experience with this?

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answers from Killeen on

I went through this with my daughter. She was always small and super skinny then around 11 she started gaining weight around the middle and in her face. She lost all really quickly around the time she got her first period. I didnt connect the dots but did ask her pediatrician and he said some girls bulk up a little right before their first period and loose it after. I was worried about the fluctuation more than anything. It was like a ten pound gain then a quick ten pound loss but he said it was totally normal.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When I was about that age, I got a bit "rounder", but then got slim again when I was in my teens. I wouldn't worry -- probably just normal development.

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answers from Seattle on

There is a longitudinal study in Sweden that tracked a couple hundred thousand girls/women from childhood to old age (multigenerational, following every 10 years... this is why I LOVE soc.med.country's studies... a "big & long" study in the US is 3 years with 6000 people in it, vs hundreds of thousands over decades).

The study was notable for 3 things*:

1) Girls about to hit puberty gain between (apx) 15-30lbs on average
2) Those who diet or exercise to lose that weight are typically 15-30lbs overweight/ struggle with their weight ***until menopause***
3) Those that do NOT diet or exercise to lose that weight, it melts off with no effort in about a year and do NOT struggle with their weight until AFTER menopause

It's a pretty mindblowing piece of research, especially from a sociological perspective (medically it's just common sense, the body is prepping for childbearing years and if it's 'starved' it tries to create a safety net assuming the person is living in an area with famine/food supply issues, and if it's not is assumes that the person is living in a bountiful area where food for itself and unborn children will be plentiful). Anyhow, sociologically... the boomers were the FIRST group of adolescents to wear FORM FITTING CLOTHES before apx 16. Girls prior to the boomers in the 50's were kept in smock type dresses. Boomers were the first ADOLESCENTS to restrict their eating/try to 'have a figure' to fit into those dresses.

Anyhow... it's a really cool, really interesting thing to think about, for setting up for life long (well, the next 40 years of fertile years, in any event) healthy weight

* The study is in swedish, and one of my professors (a fertility specialist) brought it in a translation for us to study for our midterms, and then again it was used in our childhood nutrition class. It's on the peer review database (in swedish) but I don't have my english version handy, so my numbers aren't 100% accurate, but approximate. I've used the actual study on here before, but that was before my basement flood, and MP doesn't let one search old posts very easily :P The weight may be 10-15, or 20-30... but I went with the more midline option from my memory to be 'safe'. There's actually a series of weights listed in the study with both the mean and average and I just can't pull the exact numbers right now, so I just wanted to make sure this caveat was in there. It's only a few pounds in either direction, but you get the idea.)

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answers from Austin on

She is probably about to stretch up. in height..

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answers from New York on

As long as her diet is healthy I wouldn't worry about it. Her body is changing!

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answers from Eugene on

Normal children put on brown fat to grow with. It's not like normal fat. She is turning into a woman and it takes quite an amount of this brown fat to do so.
Don't go into the dieting and food madness. It's very very normal. She will be thin again if your diet is a good one. To me that means organic food and lots of vegetables and fruits. Meat grown organically is fine too.

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answers from Seattle on

Sounds like the start of puberty to me. Female hormones will start making her accumulate fat in all the typical spots (boobs, butt, thighs) and often a little stomach fat is part of the process as well. It will look disproportionate at first but even out over the next few years.
My oldest niece is 14 now and just went through this. Like your daughter she had always been very skinny, so it looked odd when she first started "expanding". Now she has a very nice figure...still slim but more curvy.
Make sure you talk to her about what's going on with her body, so she isn't alarmed.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

All throughout childhood, a child's physique and weight and body shape, changes.
Yes, kids have tummies too! Just like adults do.
There are not, just skin.
There are periods where kids gain more weight, than others.

Your child is a Tween now.
A Tween is from 9-12 years old.
Their body changes a lot in many ways.

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answers from Dallas on

I would just for the peace of mind. My son was the same way and like over night he was a chunk!! He did end up being pre diabetic so that's important to be checked out. He hit puberty lost 45 pounds and is perfectly healthy and looks great! My peice is 10.5 and already started her period! That may be around the corner for her. I was skinny Minny till I started my period at 12 and its been a constant battle since. It sounds normal to me but just get some simple blood work to be sure
Good luck mama!


answers from Dallas on

She's just going through a stage, the end of grade school like from 4th-6th grade most kids have a little heavy side, then puberty hits and they start slimming back... I don't think you have anything to worry about... NORMAL



answers from Dallas on

It's just puberty. Same thing happened to my oldest daughter. After always being do skinny, she went through a chubby phase around 4th grade. Then she had a height growth spurt and grew into the additional weight.



answers from Tyler on

Fat cells are necessary in order to go through puberty. DON'T call attention to it! It's often at this age that girls grow very sensitive and sometimes start destructive behavior to counter the weight gain. I reared 4 girls and 1 boy and ALL gained weight at about the same age. You can teach healthy eating . . . fruit instead of sweets, nix the cheeseburgers and fries, etc., by preparing healthy meals with a minimum of grease and sugar, but I wouldn't talk about overweight during this time in her life. Emphasize her positive points, tell her often how beautiful she is. It's a rough ride for most girls.



answers from Tulsa on

That's such a hard time for girls, when I was that age I got kind of chubby and was very self conscious about it. After about 6th grade I grew really tall and didn't gain an ounce (until college actually). I'd just try to make sure she is not feeling self-conscious about outgrowing clothes quicker than normal and wait a year or so, she'll even out.



answers from Madison on

She's entering the beginning years of puberty. Sometimes skinny girls gain weight and heavier girls lose weight...it all depends on their body and their hormones. When I went through puberty (I was a late bloomer), in the 8th or 9th grade, I went from wearing a size 7 jeans to wearing a size 9 jeans for a year, and then I went back to wearing a size 7 and stayed that size for many years.

Puberty is happening earlier and earlier for girls these days. Usually they develop breast buds and a little light hair in their private area before they get their period and armpit peachfuzz/hair, but it's different for every girl.

My own daughter is also 11 and going through puberty.

I wouldn't be too concerned. Just sit back and make sure your daughter knows she can come to you with issues or concerns as her body changes.



answers from Redding on

This happened to me and to my daughter during puberty. We are both very small framed and then we chubbed up a bit. Then we thinned out again. We are both quite thin. I'm 48 and after 2 kids wear a size 2. My daughter, 3 months after having a baby, you couldn't even tell. I'm no expert, but I honestly think that when your body begins to prepare for periods, etc, your body starts to bulk up in preparation for being fertile. Things usually level out though. Most of my friends daughters experienced the same thing.
Make sure she's staying active and eating a healthy diet that doesn't include a bunch of junk. Her baby body is giving way to becoming a woman's body and I think the changes are pretty normal.

Talk to the pediatrician if you have serious concerns. Slow, steady growers can really sprout up during these tenuous years. My son starts getting a belly every single time he's getting ready for a growth spurt. He's 16 and over 6 feet tall. I put my arms around him tonight and felt the familiar signal.
He'll be two inches taller within a couple of months.

Best wishes.



answers from Los Angeles on

My oldest went through this. She was so slim we said she was "waif" like. And then around 10 she put a lot of weight on. And, for the most part lost it as she shot up in height. We did however, observe the cyclical effect of exercise. She's play soccer in the fall and slim down, nothing in the spring and gain. Every year. Until she switched to year-round volleyball. Now that she has graduated and has no sports, she gains easily. Just like the rest of us. Sounds pretty normal,right? :)
And, my youngest has always been rather thin. She's 9 and I noticed she's starting to gain. I figure it's all part of the cycle. The pre-puberty gain!



answers from Dallas on

Puberty, if she hasn't started her period yet, it'll probably be pretty soon.



answers from Washington DC on

Yeah it's puberty. Mother nature is storing fat for future pregancies. Totally normal.

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