Yes. Obesity is a chronic medical problem that affects about a third of this country’s population and is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30% or greater. In most cases, obesity is the result of a diet high in calories and a lifestyle too low in calorie-burning activity. However, in very rare instances, even among children and adolescents, obesity can actually be the result of a hormone imbalance. Hormone imbalances that can lead to obesity include an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), Cushing's syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). When children or adolescents have obesity-related hormone imbalances, they typically experience other symptoms, as well. These most often include:
Left untreated, obesity can lead to a multitude of serious health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, stroke, high blood pressure, infertility, obstructive sleep apnea, and even some cancers.
Dr. Agarwal begins by evaluating each child’s medical history and conducting a complete physical examination that will include simple blood tests to measure hormone levels. If his or her obesity is determined to be related to abnormal function of the endocrine system, it can be treated with medications to help regulate the release of specific hormones throughout the body. This is a highly-precise science. As a pediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Agarwal is uniquely qualified to assess a young patient’s hormones and metabolism, the cause of obesity, and design an effective treatment plan. Estrogen, insulin, human growth hormone, adrenaline, and the hormones released by the thyroid gland can all be replaced or supported by hormone replacement therapy and may play a role in a child or adolescence issue with obesity.