Could Your Medications Be Causing Weight Gain?

Could Your Medications Be Causing Weight Gain?

According to the CDC and Health Institute Policy more than 66 percent of all adults in the United States (131 million people) use prescription drugs, with more than half taking at least two. One-fifth of Americans are taking five or more prescription drugs. Use of prescription drugs is particularly high for older people and those with chronic conditions. While these medications can be life-saving and helpful they can also cause unwanted side effects and issues.

The prevalence of obesity has been increasing for decades and using certain prescription medications can cause weight gain or make losing weight more difficult. One in five adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017-2018 reported prescriptions for obesogenic medications, according to results published in Obesity. Researchers assessed cross-sectional data of 52,340 adults aged 20 years and older from 1999 to 2018. In 2017-2018, 20.3% of adults reported using at least one obesogenic medication, which was a significant increase from the 13.2% observed in 1999-2000.

The most common reasons for obesogenic medication prescriptions were glucose metabolism, hypertension, neuralgia or neuritis, heart disease and musculoskeletal pain and/or inflammation. The most common obesogenic medications were beta-blockers and diabetes drugs. Antipsychotics were the least commonly prescribed obesogenic medications with only 1% of patients.

A study published in Obesity 2019 evaluated the association between the use of obesogenic medications and inadequate weight loss in a behavioral weight management program. This was a case-control, single-center, study of 666 adult patients within Veterans Health Administration health system that participated in the MOVE! behavioral weight loss program. Approximately 62% of the study participants had a prescription for obesogenic medications. Obesogenic medication use was associated with worse weight loss outcomes, and participants were 37% less likely to achieve a clinically meaningful (≥5% total weight loss) outcome at the end of the MOVE! The authors concluded that thorough evaluation of patient medications is necessary to help improve outcomes of weight loss treatments.

If you struggle with weight gain or losing weight there are many things that should be evaluated by a medical professional to help determine a possible underlying cause of weight gain or hindrance to weight loss. One or more of your current prescription medications could be a culprit. While the causes for obesity are complex and multifactorial it is important not to overlook the role prescription medications could be playing. Sometimes weight promoting medications can be changed to a different drug class that will still give you the original intended benefits without the unpleasant issues of weight gain, low energy, and/or slowing of metabolism.

Here at Keep It Off we do a thorough evaluation of all of your prescription and non-prescription medications to help ensure safety and also to identify potential obesogenic medications.

Desalermos A, Russell B, Leggett C, Parnell A, Ober K, Hagerich K, Gerlan C, Ganji G, Lee E, Proudfoot JA, Grunvald E, Gupta S, Ho SB, Zarrinpar A. Effect of Obesogenic Medications on Weight-Loss Outcomes in a Behavioral Weight-Management Program. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 May;27(5):716-723. doi: 10.1002/oby.22444. PMID: 31012292; PMCID: PMC6544176.

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