Understanding Thyroid Problems and Weight Gain in Children


I understand your concerns around thyroid problems and how this relates to weight gain in children. Many parents and teenagers believe that thyroid malfunction could explain the significant weight gain, and that thyroid medication alone can solve the issue. However, recent studies show that the relationship between thyroid problems and weight is much more complex than previously thought. In this blog post, I will explore the connection between thyroid dysfunction and weight gain in children, and why simply treating the thyroid may not lead to significant weight loss.

Understanding Thyroid Problems and Symptoms:
Thyroid dysfunction, particularly hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), can indeed contribute to weight gain in children. However, it's important to note that advancements in medical diagnostics have made detection of abnormal thyroid function tests very easy. When a true problem with the thyroid exists, besides weight gain, patients usually have other symptoms, such as constipation, poor concentration, fatigue, moodiness, and irregular periods in girls. Pediatricians are vigilant in ordering thyroid function tests when these symptoms arise, leading to earlier detection and treatment of thyroid problems.

A Study on the effect of Thyroid Medication on weight loss
A study conducted by Dr. Crocker and her team a few years ago, sheds light on the effects of levothyroxine (a medication used to treat low thyroid function on weight loss in children. The study included 29 children with low thyroid function, ranging in age from 6 to 17 years. The researchers followed these children for an average of 3 to 9 months after starting treatment for low thyroid function.

Results of the study revealed that after a few weeks, there was a small initial weight loss of 0.3 kg (less than a pound) on average. However, individual weight changes varied, with some children losing more while others gaining weight. When analyzing the body mass index (BMI), a measurement that considers both weight and height, there was minimal change in BMI after treatment.

If you would like to learn more about what BMI is, I invite you to listen to episode 1 of my podcast at https://lifestyleforteens.com/1

Moreover, even after several months had passed by, there was little to no weight loss observed and, on average, most children had a slight weight gain of 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds)

This study aligns with previous research in adults, which indicates that medication for thyroid dysfunction results in minimal weight loss. In adults with low thyroid function, the average weight loss after treatment was around 2.3 kg (5pounds). However, in children, the average weight loss is less than a pound after three months of treatment. These findings underscore the importance of understanding that weight issues cannot solely be attributed to thyroid hormone abnormalities.

The Role of a Healthy Lifestyle:
While treating thyroid problems is crucial, it is equally important to address other lifestyle factors that contribute to weight gain and overall health. Unhealthy habits, such as excessive sugar and fat consumption, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, and high stress levels, can counteract the effects of thyroid medication. Building and maintaining healthy habits is essential for sustainable weight management and overall well-being.

It is essential to discuss any concerns regarding your child's thyroid function with a pediatrician who can evaluate their thyroid function further. Thyroid problems are relatively easy to treat, but it is important to manage expectations regarding weight loss. Medication alone will not solve all weight-related issues, as healthy habits play a significant role. If you are interested in learning more about building healthy habits for your family, I invite you to check out other blog posts https://lifestyleforteens.com/blog/  and sign up to receive my weekly newsletter at https://members.lifestyleforteens.com/f/subscribe-for-weekly-resources

Remember, thyroid problems are treatable, and early intervention can make a significant difference. By combining medication with a healthy and balanced lifestyle, parents can support their children in achieving optimal weight and overall well-being. You can always choose to prioritize your health and the health of your loved ones!

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