Some people cannot lose weight, no matter how hard they try. Dietary guidelines have been rigorously followed and exercise recommendations have been incorporated into one’s lifestyle, but the weight is just not coming off. Instead of giving up, a physician consult is recommended, because there are six common medical conditions that can prevent successful weight loss. If detected and treated, achieving one’s desired weight becomes much easier.
- Inadequate thyroid hormone production. This common condition is called hypothyroidism, and affects about 10% of the population, being more common in women. Thyroid hormone is produced by a walnut-sized gland in the front of the neck and helps the cells of the body burn calories. A number of people have inadequate or ineffective thyroid hormone, and treatment is generally oral replacement of that which the body does not produce, often resulting in successful weight loss.
- Depression. Stress eating and decreased activity are common in many depressed individuals. Counseling can be very effective, and medications are often used to successfully treat mood and lead to weight loss through decreasing appetite and improving energy.
- Diabetes. This is a very common disorder of near epidemic proportions in our country and is most often due to being overweight. In this disease, energy units known as glucose produced by food broken down in the stomach have a difficult time getting into the cells, and are more likely to remain in the bloodstream. Diabetics have a more difficult time losing weight, especially belly fat, and certain medications used to treat diabetes can help with weight loss as well as lower blood sugar.
- Sleep apnea. This is a common condition where a person intermittently stops breathing for a few seconds throughout the night, leading to daytime fatigue, headaches and other symptoms. This is much more common in people who are overweight. Treatment such as with the use of a pressure mask (CPAP) at night as well as various oral surgeries can lead to improved energy and hormone levels which often helps with weight loss.
- Adrenal gland hormone excess. Located on the top of the kidneys, these glands produce hormones which help with salt and sugar regulation. Cushing’s Disease is a condition where there is an excess of cortisol production, leading a person to gain weight in the midsection and lose muscle mass in the legs and arms. Successful reversal of these elevated cortisol levels may help a person lose some of this midsection obesity.
- Sex hormone imbalances. Women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) tend to be overweight and have diabetes, while men who have low testosterone tend to be heavier (and often have sleep apnea), lose strength and experience decreased energy and sex drive. Weight loss and other symptom reduction usually occurs with successful treatment of these common conditions.
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