With some children, especially if they are still growing taller, it's more important to stabilize weight and allow them to grow into their weight — they don't necessarily need to lose weight. In all cases, however, the earlier a child is identified as being overweight or at risk, the easier it is to treat. Because it's hard to permanently change dietary and exercise habits, it's essential to do something sooner rather than later.

Obese children need a thorough medical evaluation by a pediatrician or family doctor to assess their family history as well as their diet and exercise routines. First, the doctor will check for genetic and biochemical disorders related to obesity, such as Prader-Willi Syndrome and other genetic disorders, and hypothyroidism and other hormonal disorders.

Treatment Options

The main way to treat obesity in children is to help them eat a healthy diet and be physically active. In some instances, medication and even surgery may be considered depending on how overweight the child is and how much it's impacting his or her health. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital has begun to evaluate the use of bariatric surgery to treat teens with severe weight problems.

Since losing weight is so difficult, it's very important that parents support their child through lifestyle changes. Lasting weight loss only occurs when the whole family participates.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


WATCH Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Sixth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-7337
Fax: (415) 476-8214
Appointment information

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