Child Who Is Overweight: Medical Evaluation

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Doctors sometimes use the terms "overweight" or "at risk of overweight" to refer to children who weigh more than what is healthy for their height. Doctors use the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts or the body mass index (BMI) to measure a child's weight compared to their height.

If you are concerned that your child is—or could become—overweight, talk about this with your child's doctor.

Medical and family history

Your doctor will ask about things such as:

  • Your child's weight over time. This can show if your child has had an unusual change in growth.
  • Your child's diet and physical activity.
  • What may have led to the weight gain. It could be a family crisis or change, a stressful living situation, lack of access to healthy foods, an illness, or a medicine.
  • A family history of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, or gallstones.
  • Sleep problems your child may have, such as trouble sleeping.
  • Past efforts to manage weight.

Physical exam and tests

Your doctor will check for any health conditions that might have caused your child to gain weight. The doctor also will look for conditions such as depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder.

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

  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Type 2 diabetes or high blood sugar levels.

Your child also may have blood tests to look at problems with the adrenal glands and the thyroid. These tests look for the cause of being overweight as well as problems from being overweight.


Current as of: May 13, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.