There may be some tests you need to get so I suggest seeing your chosen health professional when you start this journey. First – Get your baseline weight, BMI, waist circumference and possibly other measurements like arm circumference, thigh circumference and body fat index calculated. Make sure they take these measurements in the same place each time because it is pointless if you don’t.
As for other tests, it is really is up to your treating doctor and these may not be indicated at all unless you have other symptoms. But if they were to do anything this is what they might do:
- More common tests that may relevant might be to check for this underactive thyroid gland called hypothyroidism which means checking your ‘thyroid function tests
- Less common tests related to weight gain include
- For women with abnormal periods – consider hormone testing like ‘testosterone studies’, ‘Luteinising Hormone’,’ Follicular Stimulating Hormone’, ‘Oestrogen’, ‘Progesterone and a ‘pregnancy test’
- And for those with specific symptoms, you may need to check ‘Cortisol’ – which is a stress hormone and sign of a rare disorder called Cushing disease
Other tests that might be good to get are not about identifying a cause of the weight, but rather about assessing the complications with being overweight, your overall risk of future disease and to monitor for improvements as your weight comes down. These include:
- DXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) Body Composition Scan for ~$100-150. This scan can accurately measure lean muscle, fat and bone mass for the whole body as well as separate body parts – this tells you where any excess fat is stored internally e.g. liver, pancreas, organs. It is this internal fat that causes a lot of disease e.g. diabetes, and can be helpful to be aware of. One important point is if you get the scan – get it somewhere reputable (usually a radiology provider who does other forms of scans)
- Fasting glucose and haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)
- Fasting insulin
- Cholesterol levels
- Liver function tests for fatty liver disease
- Iron, vitamin b12/folate studies if your diet is really poor
- Sleep study – to see if you have obstructive sleep apnoea
If it helps you can write this down or print out the page below and take it to your doctor and together you can decide if these are necessary.