Is Your Skinny Kid “Constitutionally Thin”?
… and what does it mean?
When one of our nutrition experts recently spoke about a child being “constitutionally thin”, I figured this must be nutritionist speak, as I had never heard the term. Given how many of our readers write in with questions and concerns about their skinny kids, I know parents are curious to know more. So, I sat down with ZisBoomBah’s own Lisa Lanzano, MS, RD to dig deeper. Constitutional thinness is an actual clinical condition. Learn more about the diagnosis from our expert.
A child who is constitutionally thin usually has a low but stable (not fluctuating) body mass index (BMI) without any hormonal abnormality, malnutrition or other health concerns that would explain her low weight. (To learn what is a healthy BMI for your child, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.) Though constitutional thinness is very different from anorexia nervosa, the condition is not without risk (e.g., low bone mineral density could be a concern). What’s more, it is important for your pediatrician to skillfully distinguish between your child being constitutionally thin and being at risk for developing an eating disorder.
Essentially, constitutional thinness is a clinical diagnosis, after all other issues appear normal, including your child’s psychological profile. “Look for an obvious genetic link,” Lisa advised parents who may be concerned. Genetic predisposition, however, may not be immediately obvious. Look beyond the parents and at your extended family; a skinny uncle your haven’t heard from in a decade?
After you have ruled out any health issues with your constitutionally thin child and you still need your skinny kid to put on a few pounds, Lisa has great tips on healthy weight gain.