Medical Questions » Psychiatry Questions » Question No. 830
Question:My 18 year old daughter is quite short and thin, weighing only 37 kilos. The doctor said she is just skinny but I' m worried about her. Is there something I should do?
Answer:37 kilos (5 stone 9 lb) would be the correct avetage weight for an 18 year old who is 145 cm (4ft 9 in) tall. This is obviously very short (99% of girls would be taller than this), but by 18 years of age, growth has virtually ceased, and there is nothing that can be done to increase her height. If your daughter is significantly taller than this, then her weight is of considerable concern. The most common possibility is that she is suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia. Girls are often very good at hiding this problem from their families, and may appear to eat normally, but later vomit all the food they have just eaten. These people have a distotted body image and believe they are fat even though they are actually very thin. Treatment is possible, but usually spreads over many years. Other possible causes of being very underweight include an overactive thyroid gland, liver and bowel disease, blood disorders, depression, infections, heart failure and cancer. Because this list is so widespread, and because many of the conditions are serious, it is essential that if your daughter is taller than expected from her weight, she must be further investigated to find out just which problem is affecting her.
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