Losing Weight and I'm Not Sure Why

Published: October 31, 2016
Dear TeenHealthFX,
l'm losing weight and I don't know why. Recently, I've noticed that I dropped about 15 pounds in a few weeks. I'm 15, 5'3, and I used to be about 115lbs but now I'm about 100lbs. Is this normal?l'm slightly concerned because I haven't intentionally made changes to my diet/physical exercise. I eat relatively healthy and as much as I'm hungry. I was always pretty skinny and never felt the need to lose weight. I've tried to talk to my parents but they just accuse me of starving myself and say I should 'just eat more'. I haven't noticed any issues with my health, except for having slightly less strength and getting cold a bit easier. (Neither of these things are bad enough to stop me from functioning properly in my everyday life). I'm not losing hair or constantly shivering, but my arms are skinnier and my ribs/hipbones stick out more. What could some reasons for this sudden weight loss be? At what point should I go to a doctor to get it checked out?
Signed: Losing Weight and Not Sure Why

Dear Losing Weight and Not Sure Why,

Adolescence is often a time of growth spurts, which means that teens often need to consume more calories to give their bodies fuel for these growth spurts. It is possible that the amount of food you have been eating is no longer sufficient for what your body needs at this point in time. And if your food intake is not providing you enough nutrients or energy, it will start to affect you physically. For a 15 year old caloric intake for a sedentary lifestyle is 1,800 calories and 2,000 for a more active lifestyle. Just looking at the numbers for your height and weight your BMI is 17.7 which puts you in the underweight category. Your weight at your height should be around 107-135 lbs.

The first thing to look at is how much you are eating. Your meals should consist of a well-balanced diet including a sufficient amount of fruit, veggies, dairy, meats, and breads for three meals and snacks in between with plenty of fluids. It might be helpful to keep a food diary to keep track of what you are eating for your meals and snacks to see if you are eating well and eating enough to meet the current needs of your growing body.

If you take a close look at your caloric intake and see that you are taking in the recommended amount of calories for your age yet still losing weight, or if this situation persists despite increasing your food intake, then schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or an adolescent medicine specialist to ensure that there aren’t any underlying medical issues that need to be addressed.  

If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Signed: TeenHealthFX