Pounds in a Pill…Your Medicine Cabinet & Weight Gain

There are many factors that contribute to excessive weight gain and the development of obesity, such as, behavioral influences, physiological, environmental and psychological factors, but there is yet another factor to America’s incessant weight-gain epidemic that until recently has flown under the weight-gain radar virtually unnoticed.

What is this mysterious attributing factor? …Prescription medications

While most Americans today are aware of the lifestyle and dietary habits that cause weight gain, the majority overlook the possibility that excess weight gain can originate in their medicine cabinet.

The pills millions of people take every day for diabetes, clinical depression, psychotic disorders, high blood pressure, and other illnesses or conditions have been proven to pack on the pounds… sometimes up to one pound each week on those who are naively using these medications to treat an illness or ailment. The irony is that many of these drugs are the ones that have been prescribed to them to treat a condition that resulted from unwarranted weight gain.

Medicinal weight gain was first recognized in the mid-nineties when Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin, director of the weight management center at Johns Hopkins University, and his associates recognized that many patients being treated at the center for obesity, actually gained weight –in large amounts- after starting antipsychotics, antidepressants and other prescription drugs.

One 42-year-old woman, for instance, gained 42 pounds after taking lithium, a drug for mood swings and a 36-year-old supermarket worker gained 240 pounds while taking prednisone, a steroid drug.

What most people don’t realize is that weight gain is among the side effects listed on official information sheets for some of the most frequently prescribed drugs in the United States. They include drugs taken by tens of millions of people for diabetes, clinical depression, high blood pressure, gastric reflux and heartburn, and serious mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Among them are top-selling medications like:

  • Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil (anti-depressants)
  • Nexium and Prevacid (heartburn medications)
  • Clozaril and Zypexa (used to treat serious mental disorders)
  • Glucotrol, Diabeta, and Diabinese (used to treat diabetes)
  • Minipress, Cardura, and Indera (high blood pressure drugs)

Non-prescription medications have been shown to cause weight gain as well. The antihistamine, diphenhydramine for instance, is an ingredient in dozens of popular cold and allergy remedies that has been proven to contribute to excessive weight gain in those using it to alleviate an ailment.

This is a concern which everyone must take notice of regardless of current health and bodyweight, as American physicians are currently writing an average of 12 prescriptions each year for every person in the country. Although this is a concern in which we must recognize, it has not yet been determined just how much these medicines contribute to the society-wide overweight and obesity epidemic.

The Prescription Paradox 

It’s no secret that obesity significantly increases your risks of developing an assortment of medical problems. Diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and insulin resistance are just a few that are augmented with excessive weight gain. The paradox is that certain drugs prescribed to treat a medical condition or ailment caused by excess weight gain, can simultaneously contribute to weight gain. For example, in a conflict of interest, overweight and obese individuals with type II diabetes -resulting from dietary and lifestyle habits- are prescribed insulin-stimulating drugs. While these drugs help control their condition they also promote the addition of unwanted weight gain.

About 1 million people with type I diabetes take insulin injections as do some of the 15 million with type II diabetes. Until the 1990s, diabetics almost always took just one insulin shot a day. Then, a landmark clinical trial showed that multiple injections each day did a better job of controlling the disease’s complications, such as high risk of heart attacks, vision loss, and other serious health problems. While this proved to control diabetes, the patients on intensive insulin therapy gained an average of 10.5 pounds more than those taking one insulin shot each day.

No Warning

Consumers who would never suspect looking in their medicine cabinet for the cause of their weight gain have few sources of information. Package inserts (which include the official description of a drug’s side effects) usually give weight gain little attention, including those for widely used weight-gain medicines like antidepressants.

About 19 million adults and 11 million children in the United States take drugs for clinical depression. Long-term use of certain antidepressants will cause weight gain, yet package inserts for Paxil, an anti-depressant linked to some of the biggest weight gains ever

recorded, contributes only 3 words: “Frequent Weight gain”. There is no hint that 1 in 4 patients add at least 7% to their body weight (about 9lbs for a 130lbs person) with this single medication. Some report much larger gains reaching the double-digit range.

Package inserts for the four other top-selling anti-depressants — Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, and Luvox — use the same approach, stating little about the amount of weight that patients may gain.

Although certain medications will promote unexpected weight gain this is not necessarily considered as a reason not to use a medication. If you’re currently using a drug that has been shown to cause weight gain, do not suddenly stop taking your prescription. Abruptly discontinuing a medication can compromise your health and cause serious ramifications. Certain medications are needed to treat urgent health problems, ones that are far more dangerous than gaining a few extra pounds. Rather than stop taking a medication, consult with your doctor. Changes in lifestyle habits, rather than medications, may be all that is needed to promote optimal health and control bodyweight. At Success Meals KC we often see clients turn their health around as they’re able to eliminate prescriptions that were once needed.

The Success Meals team is here to support you and providing healthy meal delivery to Kansas City is our specialty, which is why we are Kansas City’s #1 weight loss meal delivery service and customized healthy meal delivery service!

If you would like to try Success Meals KC healthy meal delivery or diet food delivery program, sign up for our Free Trial Offer.

Experiencing your sample day from Success Meals is your first step to enjoying customized, delicious meals delivered to your door! Or you can call us today at 913-894-6325… we know you want to have a healthy body and that starts by eating healthy meals. We look forward to working with you to achieve your goals of good health!!


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