Knowing what to do when your child has weigth issues early in life is hard. There are many reasons why a child has problems with their weight. Often the issue is hereditary or caused by some other Health disorder. Occasionally when a mother or father is too fault-finding and presses her child too hard about his weight, he or she plays the opposite role of what is intended. He or she may be able to face these facts and then make an attempt to find out the undlying cause.
Sometimes a parent or grandparent can be indulgent about offering sweets as a token of pleasure, pride, or sympathy. In such instances the mother or the father, or both, may be able to step out of the picture and tell the child, “It’s really up to you. If you want to do something about your weight, figure out what you want to do. If you want to go on a diet, or consult with a doctor, okay. You are old enough to handle or mishandle this problem on your own, and I’m bowing out.” Some parents cannot admit to themselves that their hovering attitudes, or their alternating between forbidding certain foods one minute and then encouraging them the next, might have much influence on the eating habits of their off spring. When such a parent acquires more understanding and is less concerned with feelings of guilt and blame, a major step has been achieved.
In some cases counselling, guidance, or psychotherapy by people with much experience and training in these problems may be worthwhile. Such help may be offered directly to the adolescent, but it is often more beneficial if one or both parents receive this expert aid themselves.
Even if nearly all overweight youngsters are too heavy because of overeating due to mixed-up feelings, there are a few, a very few, cases of obesity that can rightly be considered due to abnormal functioning of glands. In such a case the gland frequently suspected but infrequently involved is the thyroid. As has been previously mentioned, an under active thyroid gland may actually prevent proper weight gain by causing a sluggish appetite and poor intake of food.
However, an apparent increase in weight is occasionally due to a poorly functioning thyroid gland. Usually, if this is true, the hair is coarse and brittle, the skin dry and cold, and the child dull and sleepy.
The basal metabolic rate, also known as the B.M.R. and the basal metabolism, is a means of testing thyroid function. For this test the patient gets his body as close as possible to a complete resting state. The oxygen needs of the body are then measured by testing the air that the patient breathes in and out of a bag connected to an energy-measuring device called a calorimeter. Though this is a useful test, there are many chances for possible error or misinterpretation of the results.
A thyroid function test that is simpler and often more accurate is now frequently used. This is a test for protein-bound iodine (P.B.I.) in the blood of the patient. A small amount of blood is taken from the vein of the patient and then the blood is studied to find the quantity of iodine bound with the protein. This binding is a specific function of the thyroid gland and the normal thyroid gland creates a certain amount of protein-bound iodine which is available for testing.
Another similar test is preferred in some laboratories. This is a determination of butyl-extracted iodine. For certain purposes, a test for radioactive iodine uptake also gives valuable information about the thyroid gland. In this test a “cocktail” containing minute amounts of radioactive iodine is consumed, and a later Geiger reading is taken to see whether the patient’s thyroid gland has properly taken care of the iodine which can be traced in this manner. Only when a patient has definite findings of thyroid deficiency would it seem worthwhile to treat with thyroid tablets or with one of the thyroid hormones.
Rarer cases of obesity are caused by adrenal tumor, brain tumor, brain injury, or brain infection. The latter is called encephalitis. Doctors know about these possibilities and consider them in the study of overweight patients, but obesity without other definite signs of illness is practically never caused in this way.