What Labs and Measurements Do You Need to Help with Weight Management?
Obesity is a medical condition that puts people at risk for other severe and chronic health problems. People with obesity account for more than 30% of U.S. adults and 20% of U.S. children, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Excess body weight can lead to other health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.
If you are concerned about your weight, specific numbers will be vital for you and your doctor to know.
First, a screening calculation called the body mass index (BMI) would be done by your doctor to determine if your weight may put you at risk for other diseases. BMI results are categorized into five main groups:
- <18.5 - Underweight
- 18.5-24.9 - Healthy weight
- 25-29.9 - Overweight
- 30-34 - Class 1 Obesity
- 35-39 - Class 2 Obesity
- 40+ - Class 3 Obesity
BMI is only a screening tool and an approximation of risk. Even if your BMI falls in the healthy range, it is still possible for you to be affected by weight-related metabolic disease. Your doctor will also use lab tests and other measurements to guide your weight management treatment plan. This may include completing a blood test, allowing the doctor to determine a diagnosis.
Why Do You Need Labs for Weight Management?
Labs are used to check specific items that pinpoint possible sources of weight gain. Checking labs will screen for underlying conditions and help determine if weight loss medications can be used safely. Labs can also decide which type of medication and lifestyle change may work best for your body.
What are Blood Tests Done for Weight Loss?
Blood tests are typically done to measure general blood chemistry, liver and kidney function, blood count, insulin sensitivity, thyroid hormone levels, and cholesterol. The following are common measurements taken as part of a blood test for weight loss:
- CMP - Used to measure metabolic reactions in the body, electrolytes, and liver/kidney function.
- Vitamin D (25-hydroxy) - Obesity can contribute to vitamin D deficiencies.
- A1c - Used to determine if you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes.
- CBC - Used to determine blood count, immune function, platelet counts, and to screen for anemia.
- Lipid Panel - Used to determine cholesterol levels.
- TSH - Used to check thyroid function.
Other tests for managing weight loss treatment include your blood pressure and pulse measurements. Carrying excess weight can increase your risk for high blood pressure and heart problems. A baseline blood pressure and pulse measurement are also essential before prescribing weight loss medications, as some of these can affect blood pressure and pulse.
Is There a Blood Test to Check Your Metabolism?
Because weight regulation is complex, there is no one blood test to check your metabolism. Blood tests are checked to determine if there may be imbalances that can contribute to a slower metabolism. For example, if insulin resistance is found by testing your fasting insulin and glucose levels and then using an equation to calculate what is known as the HOMA-IR (https://thebloodcode.com/homa-ir-calculator/), this can be a contributor to unwanted weight gain in some individuals. The good news is if insulin resistance is present, diet changes can help.
Thyroid hormone is also generally checked, especially the TSH (stimulating thyroid hormone). The TSH is the master regulator of the entire thyroid system. Low thyroid hormone levels can contribute to small weight gain over time. However, when the TSH level is abnormal, this is more likely to result from the weight gain than a cause. Your doctor can help you decipher the meaning of abnormal thyroid hormone levels and what action would need to be taken next.
How Often Should You Get Labs Done for Weight Management?
On average, labs should be done after your initial visit with your doctor and then at least once a year for weight management. Depending on your initial results, treatment plan, and care goals, your doctor may order labs more frequently. It can also be exciting and motivating to obtain more frequent labs to see the results of your progress.
How Much Do Labs for Weight Management Cost?
Labs for weight loss management are affordable. Labs for weight loss are considered prevention medicine, generally covered by health insurance plans. Cash pay reduced rate lab options may also be available, which can be discussed with your physician.
Talk to a Doctor About Lab Tests for Weight Management
If you are concerned about your weight or wish to discuss your body mass index, talk with an AccoladeCare doctor to get an order for lab tests. Labs can highlight important information used to guide weight loss treatment plans. Book an appointment today to discuss weight management options with a board-certified primary care doctor.
MedlinePlus. Obesity Screening. Accessed on June 12, 2022, at https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/obesity-screening/
National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Overweight & Obesity Statistics. Accessed on June 12, 2022, at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity