Your child's family doctor or pediatrician will probably make the initial diagnosis of childhood obesity. If your child has complications from being obese, you'll likely be referred to additional specialists to help manage all your child's conditions.
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well-prepared for any appointments you have with your child's health care team. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and know what you can expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. If your doctor is going to test your child's blood sugar or cholesterol, your child may need to fast for eight to 12 hours. When you're making an appointment, ask if any type of fasting is necessary.
- Write down any symptoms your child is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated.
- Ask a family member or friend to join you, if possible. Managing childhood obesity requires you to retain a lot of information, and it can sometimes be difficult to remember all of the information provided during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Bring a notebook and a pen or pencil to write down important information.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
- Bring any growth measurements you may have recorded at home to show your child's doctor.
- Record a typical week of meals that your child eats to show your child's doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For childhood obesity, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What other health problems might my child have?
- What are the treatment options for my child?
- Are there medications that might help manage my child's weight and other health conditions?
- How long will treatment take?
- What can I do to help my child lose weight?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
- What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to your prepared questions, don't hesitate to ask additional questions that may come up during your child's appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
During your appointment, your doctor or other health provider is likely to ask you a number of questions about your child's eating, activity, mood and thoughts, and any symptoms your child might have. You may be asked such questions as:
- What does your child eat in a typical day?
- How much activity does your child get in a typical day?
- What are the factors that you believe affect your child's weight?
- What diets or treatments, if any, have you tried to help your child lose weight?
- Do you have any family members with weight problems?
- Are you ready to make changes in your family's lifestyle to help your child lose weight?
- What do you think might prevent your child from losing weight?
- How often does the family have meals together? Does the child help prepare the food?
- Does the child, or family, eat while watching TV or using a computer?
What you can do in the meantime
If you have several days or weeks before your child's scheduled appointment, you can start making some changes on your own to your family's eating and activity levels as you begin the journey to lose weight. Start preparing healthier meals for your family, and encourage your child to be active by taking walks, going for bike rides or playing sports. It's also a good idea to start keeping a record of what your child eats and how much he or she exercises.
Feb. 15, 2014
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- Hay WW, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 21st ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=14. Accessed Sept. 18, 2013.
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- Keeping children at a healthy weight: A review of the research on ways to avoid becoming overweight or obese. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/search-for-guides-reviews-and-reports/?pageaction=displayproduct&productID=1714. Accessed Sept. 18, 2013.
- Skelton JA. Management of childhood obesity in the primary care setting. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 18, 2013.
- Petjar R, et al. Pharmacological management of obese child. Archives of Diseases in Childhood Education and Practice Edition. 2013;98:108.
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- O'Gorman CSM, et al. Considering statins for cholesterol-reduction in children if lifestyle and diet changes do not improve their health: a review of the risks and benefits. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 2011:7;1.
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