Not losing weight? Read this before you give up

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Sometimes, it becomes impossible to lose weight despite our best efforts. The reasons could be medical.

Medical reasons for not losing weight

Weighty woes

You have been working out rigorously, following your diet plan to the T, but the kilos refuse to budge. Before you get completely de-motivated and give up the fight to attain a healthy and fit body, it is important to know that many a times, an underlying medical condition may be responsible for your lack of progress.

Common medical reasons for weight gain

The common medical causes of weight gain and inability to lose weight are often one of the following:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Hyperprolactemia

Hypothyroidism – This is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to secrete adequate amounts of thyroid hormones. The common symptoms are obesity, bloated and puffy face, tiredness and lethargy, dull skin and hair, depression, inability to lose weight, failure to conceive and repeated miscarriages.

Type 2 diabetes – This is a metabolic condition in which there is excess sugar in the blood either due to low insulin level or the insulin level is adequate but the cells do not utilize the insulin that is produced by the pancreas. Diabetes may present with polyuria (increased frequency of urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), polyphagia (increased hunger), tiredness, decreased wound healing or sometimes there may be no symptoms at all. If you have a family history of diabetes, then it is important that you get your blood glucose checked, especially if you have been trying to lose weight with minimal success.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome – This is a condition characterized by the presence of multiple cysts in the ovaries.  This syndrome is one of the commonest causes of obesity and the inability to lose weight in women. It usually presents with menstrual irregularities, hirsutism (excessive hair growth in women in areas that are usually not prone to hair, like the chin or chest), acne, male pattern baldness, weight gain. Other signs and symptoms include elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance, infertility and high cholesterol levels.

Hyperprolactinemia – This condition is not very common. However, if a person is not losing weight and other conditions have been ruled out, it would be wise to check for this condition. Hyperprolactemia is a condition where there is greater than normal levels of prolactin (a type of peptide hormone) in the blood. It may present with the following symptoms: weight gain, hirsutism, menstrual irregularities and discharge from breasts.

In addition to these medical conditions, various medications and drugs may also lead to weight gain and/or difficulty in losing weight. Some of the common culprits are drugs for depression, oral contraceptives, steroids, anti-convulsants, some drugs for hypertension and herbal medications (as there are no regulatory bodies for these medications and many of them have been found to contain steroids).

 Written by Dr Jayati Talukdar, General Physician