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Obesity and Weight Management

Childhood obesity

12/06/2007

Question:

My grandson is 8 years old and we are very concerned about his weight. He is normal in height for his age but is extremely overweight 110 lbs and gaining. He thinks about food a lot and always wants to know what we will be eating at our next meal. Recently, we have noticed that he has developed armpit odor similar to an onion smell. I feel that he is too young to be experiencing this and I am concerned that he may have a medical problem resulting in his obesity and possibly the odor as well. What action should we take?

Answer:

Your grandson's body odor of onions is probably not a sign of serious problems. Body odor comes from skin bacteria interacting with sweat. Dark moist places are where bacteria grow best, which is why the underarm region harbors odor. While it could be a sign of early puberty, it is uncommon in 8 year old boys. Still, if you see signs of coarse hair development under his arms, acne, facial or genital hair, you should see his doctor.

More likely, your son is struggling to control the development of body odor due to excess weight. This is a frequent problem for overweight kids, even as young as 8 yrs old. Deodorants that keep the region dry are effective at preventing this smell.

Tackling the weight problem while he is young is your best bet. Speak with your physician about it. Set up a plan for steady improvement in diet and activity. If necessary, get a referral to a dietitian to help with your grandson's eating patterns and get him away from screens and outside every day to ensure an hour of vigorous physical activity. Community centers and YMCAs have many programs to help.

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Response by:

Robert D Murray, MD Robert D Murray, MD
Clinical Professor of Health Behaviors & Health Promotion
Retired Professor of Human Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University