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Obesity Center

Obesity Diagnosis

A visit to your family physician, or pediatrician, will most likely be the way you'll begin to diagnose the health of your weight.  Obesity is relatively easy to diagnose, as the condition relies on measurements provided by a scale and measuring tape. Your doctor may also want to look at your overall health because weight problems are indicators of other potential health problems.

If weight gain cannot be explained by typical factors, your doctor may recommend that you see an endocrinologist, a specialist in the diagnosis of endocrine system disorders which regulate the hormones.  This is because weight gain may be caused by another medical condition such as hormonal changes or Type 2 diabetes. Or if weight gain is due to depression, stress, or another psychological issue, your doctor may recommend you see a psychologist, psychiatrist, or mental health counselor.  Or, if your doctor determines that one weight loss solution is through surgery, then you may be recommended to a bariatric surgeon. Medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of obesity include: 

  • Bariatric surgeon
  • Endocrinologist
  • Family doctors
  • Nutritionists
  • Pediatricians
  • Physical trainers
  • Pscyhologist
  • Psychiatrist

Medical history
To prepare for a medical history, it’s good to know that doctors are interested in factors relevant to possible weight gain such as lifestyle changes. Be sure to mention whether you have recently quit smoking or decreased physical activity during your appointment.  Other factors, such as drinking alcohol or increased stress, may increase your risk of certain diseases in combination with weight gain.  

Medical exams
In addition to a medical history, your doctor will perform a physical exam in order to evaluate your health. One thing to keep in mind: if you are going to be weighed while fully clothed, it might be a good idea to wear clothes that are not especially heavy; heavy boots or coats can add several pounds to your total weight. However, be sure to wear the same clothing at later points during control testing so that you get accurate weight measurements.

Physical exam - During a physical, your doctor will measure the circumference of the waist, to determine if there is excessive fat around the abdominal region. If your waist circumference is greater than 40 inches for a man, or greater than 35 inches for a woman, then you are at a greater risk of developing certain diseases (e.g. heart disease) or disorders than if your waist is a smaller circumference.  Additionally, your doctor may use the BMI index to see if, given your weight and height, you fall within a healthy weight range, or are overweight or obese.  Finally, the doctor may measure the subcutaneous fat tissue (tissues between the skin and the muscles) at different points on the body such as the abdomen, arms and under the shoulder plates to diagnose whether or not you are experiencing overweight or obesity.

Blood test – Blood tests may be ordered to identify possible hypothyroidism by looking for low levels of  thyroxine, and a high levels of TSH in the blood.   Laboratory blood tests can also show whether the fat molecules, LDL, HDL, VLDL, cholesterol and TG, that are normally found in blood are in normal ranges or if they are increased.

Once doctors diagnosed a case of clinical obesity, they can recommend treatment.  Treatment options are important, as they may reduce susceptibility to other types of diseases and disorders, such as heart disease.  To learn more about treatments for obesity, read more about medical obesity treatment here.

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