Home | Calendar | Español | Media Room | Shop | Contact Us

Birth Control and Weight Gain

I am looking for some help regarding nutrition. My daughter is 17, and is about 4'3". The problem is she is 124 lbs. About 30 pounds too heavy, I believe. The weight gain started with the addition of birth control pills to control her periods. At our last physical, our doctor suggested we put her on the Atkins diet. I don't know much at all about the diet. I realize her weight gain is somewhat due to inactivity. As she gets older it is harder to encourage her to go outside and walk with me. She likes to swim, but not always with me. Bike riding is good, but she is too heavy for training wheels, and the three-wheeled bikes are expensive. She has a lot of joint pains and had a hip dislocation repaired when she was five. She had always been underweight until we started birth control pills. She isn't obsessed with food. She doesn't go and get herself something to eat. She doesn't drink pop, Kool-Aid, or eat candy. She does have portion control, as I serve her, and if she does serve herself, she puts only two tablespoons on her plate. She is not a finicky eater either. Loves fruits and veggies. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

My first thought would be to look at other birth control options that may not have as drastic an effect. I am not sure what she is on, but I believe an injection (Depo-Provera) causes the most weight gain. I would wonder how long it took her to gain the 30 pounds. If her activity level has decreased, and hormones have been introduced and she is eating more or the same quantity, this will produce weight gain. Lifestyle change is needed.

My personal feeling is NEVER put an adolescent on Atkins diet. There may be long-term negative side effects--kidney, liver, etc. The Atkins diet severely limits carbohydrates and puts you in a ketosis mode to be successful (basically starvation). I would encourage trying regular weight control lifestyle changes first. I would suggest having a lipid panel, blood pressure, thyroid function tests, liver function tests, and glucose tolerance tested. Based on those results, limit portion sized to 2-3 oz of meat per meal, increase consumption of whole grains to six servings per day (rye, pumpernickel, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, whole grain cereals, brown rice, etc.). If she loves fruit and vegetables, increase their quantity. Use low fat or fat free dairy products. Limit empty calorie foods such as sweetened beverages, candy, fat-free baked goods. Find a physical activity that is doable and do it daily.

Look at her plate at meals. Sometimes it is difficult to limit quantities in a child, who for her entire youth you have been encouraging to gain weight. Is she eating to gain weight still or can you limit her portions and still have her satisfied?

JR, RD, LD/ TK 7-13-10

 



Ask The Expert Home Page > B > CdLS Expert Entry: Birth Control and Weight Gain

Legal Disclaimer:  Please take note that the CdLS Foundation's Ask the Expert service is comprised of volunteer professionals in various areas of focus. Response times may vary and a response is not guaranteed. Answers are not considered a medical, behavioral, or educational consultation. Ask the Expert is not a substitute for the care and attention your child's personal physician, psychologist, educational consultant, or social worker can deliver.