Medical conditions and nutritional supplements

Sometimes a child’s difficulty with eating and the resulting weight loss are due to a medical condition. Nutritional supplements like PediaSure® may help.


Failure to thrive (FTT)

Failure to thrive is a condition that describes a child that is gaining weight significantly slower than expected. FTT is usually diagnosed when weight is consistently below the 5th percentile, or if weight crosses 2 major percentile lines 1 . It has a variety of causes, from medical conditions that make it hard to absorb nutrients, to lack of appetite due to medications, or a child not eating properly.


When a child is underweight, the reason could be one of many and may not be cause for concern. The parents might be short in stature, so the child may not meet the average weight for his age. You could have a picky eater on your hands, or a medical condition could be causing lower than average weight gain. You and your doctor know your child best and can determine together if a problem needs to be addressed. If you're unsure what the proper height and weight is for a child of a certain age, consider reviewing this child growth chart and start a discussion with your pediatrician.

Colds and flu

When kids get sick with a cold or the flu, they may not feel like eating. They may have diarrhea and vomiting. A decrease in appetite can keep kids from taking in the nutrients their bodies need.

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall can cause a decrease in appetite, which may result in unintentional weight loss2. While a common treatment for ADHD is medication, healthcare providers agree that appetite can suffer and food intake should be monitored. Studies have shown that eating a well-balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and protein-rich foods can help reduce ADHD symptoms like impulsive actions, hyperactivity, and restlessness3.


Asthma that is not well-controlled can cause fatigue and an overall feeling of poor health in children. Some asthma patients experience a decrease in appetite or a lack of interest in even coming to the table to eat4.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a condition where kids have an intolerance to wheat, rye, and barley, which can cause abdominal pain and indigestion. Celiac disease can also impair the absorption of essential nutrients, which can result in poor growth and lower weight gain. PediaSure can be a good option for kids who suffer from Celiac disease.

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance is the inability or decreased ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. The only solution is to remove this sugar from the diet. In children, however, that means removing an important source of calcium (milk), which is essential to developing strong bones and teeth. Since PediaSure is suitable for lactose intolerance*, adding it to a child’s diet can help provide that calcium.

*Not for children with galactosemia.

1. Krugman SD, Dubowitz H. Failure to Thrive. American Family Physician.2003; 68,5:879.
2. Accessed August 13, 2020.
3. Accessed August 13, 2020.
4. Accessed August 13, 2020.