6 Health Issues That Cause Weight Gain

Illness could be at the bottom of sudden, unexplained weight gain.

The human body is a complex piece of machinery. It runs well when everything is in perfect balance, but when illness strikes, the resulting imbalance can throw many elements out of whack, such as your weight. You might think you’re doing all the right things, but if you’ve experienced sudden, unexpected weight gain that you can’t seem to shed with any amount of diet adjustments and exercise, it’s probably time to see your doctor. Gaining weight is a symptom of a variety of different medical conditions but, with a complete physical and a thorough blood test, your doctor could diagnose an issue early enough to treat it effectively. Plus, you’ll be better able to manage your weight.


You can eat a lot but still be malnourished if you aren’t eating foods that provide the nutrition you need. Image via Nikocado Avocado/YouTube

You might associate malnutrition with starving, but MedicineNet says the more accurate definition is not getting adequate amounts of essential nutrients to maintain optimal health. That means that even if you’re eating three full meals a day, you still won’t get adequate nutrients if those meals are made up of the wrong foods. Not getting proper nutrition can slow down your digestion and metabolism which nutritionists say can cause significant weight gain. Malnutrition is one of the easier issues to deal with. Just start eating healthier, even if it means consulting a dietician.

Ovarian Conditions

Cysts in the ovaries can make it difficult to conceive, but polycystic ovary syndrome (also known as PCOS) can also cause weight gain. Health website NHS Choices says PCOS causes a frustrating cycle of putting on weight which triggers the body to produce excess insulin, which causes more weight gain, which causes more insulin production … you get the idea. Weight gain with PCOS will sometimes respond to diet adjustments and increased exercise, but many times prescription medication is required to get a handle on the problem.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Weight gain is one symptom of Cushing’s Syndrome, a disease that can be brought on with the use of steroidal medication.

Not many people are at risk of developing Cushing’s Syndrome. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, as few as two to three people in a million are diagnosed each year. Steroid medications or tumors can cause Cushing’s Syndrome. One of the effects of the disease is heightened levels of cortisol, which is a well-known cause of weight gain. The good news is that identifying the factor at the root of the disease can help get the weight off. Removing the tumor or adjusting or changing medication should result in easier weight loss.

Thyroid Issues

We’ve previously talked about hypothyroidism¬† but any condition that affects the thyroid’s ability to function properly will also affect weight. In addition to hypothyroidism, Healthline lists Hashimoto’s Disease as¬†another thyroid condition that can cause weight gain. Hashimoto’s Disease can actually damage the thyroid, and that will keep the pounds from coming off as easily as in the past. Any time the thyroid isn’t functioning as it should, medication may be required. Working closely with your doctor as well as getting enough rest, eating healthy, and exercising are the best ways to deal with weight gain due to thyroid conditions.

Depression and Other Emotional Disorders

Your overall health can be affected by your emotions, and dealing with issues such as depression (including postpartum depression) and bipolar disorder often bring weight gain along with distressing emotional symptoms. The hormones your body produces when your mood is negative can slow down your metabolism and increase your appetite, a combination guaranteed to make you gain weight. Plus, when you’re depressed or going through a manic low, you probably won’t be inclined to work out. The ironic thing is that working out and eating healthier can make you feel better emotionally. That’s not to say that medication isn’t required, especially in extreme cases, but the exercise/diet adjustment combo is worth a try as part of treating the condition and, as a side-effect, it will help take the pounds off.


Not to incite a freak-out, because not all weight gain can be attributed to cancer, but sometimes it can. Cancers that can affect hormones, such as ovarian or pituitary cancers, will also affect body weight. Naturally, treating a condition as serious as cancer takes precedence over losing weight, but the healthy diet doctors recommend for cancer patients will help. Often, the weight of the tumors themselves accounts for part of the weight gain, so removing them results in instant weight loss. Plus, with the tumor gone, it will no longer affect hormones that influence weight gain so it should be easier to take off any remaining excess weight.

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