Weight gain and loss

Weight gain from steroids

Steroids (prednisone, dexamethasone) may cause your child to gain weight. Steroids can cause an increase in appetite and a build-up of fluid (retention).

Your child may:

  • gain weight in the face and stomach
  • will be hungry and need to eat often.

Give your child healthy snacks several times a day. Try to limit the amount of salty foods that your child eats. Salt causes fluid retention. Your child will lose weight after the steroids are stopped.

Weight loss 

Many children lose weight during chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Your medical team will closely watch your child's weight. If your child:

  • cannot eat enough food to grow and stay healthy. your doctor will talk with you about giving nutrition through a feeding tube or IV. Special formula can be given through a tube that goes through the nose into the stomach (nasogastric or NG tube).
  • has vomiting and cannot take food into the stomach, a special formula can be given through an IV (Total Parenteral Nutrition - TPN).

Suggestions to help your child maintain or gain weight

  • keep healthy foods that your child likes on hand
  • give small snacks or meals every two hours during the day
  • add food that is high in calories, like ice cream in a milk shake or peanut butter on toast
  • do not to offer a lot of fluids during meals, as this will make your child feel full quicker
  • cook foods with strong flavours that may stimulate the appetite
  • let your child help cook food
  • activity before meals may increase appetite
  • take advantage of the times that your child wants to eat
  • Sustagen (hospital strength available from chemist). 
Last updated Saturday 9th December 2023