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5 Medical Conditions That Can Affect Weight Loss

When you gain or lose weight unexpectedly, you might assume it’s due to inadvertent changes in how you eat or how active you’ve been.

And most of the time, that’s probably what’s behind it.

But a laundry list of health conditions can also influence weight gain or loss, either by affecting your appetite and energy levels or through other mechanisms.

Let’s explore 5 medical conditions that can lead to weight changes.

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid)

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

Your thyroid plays a huge part in determining your metabolic rate, so thyroid issues can have an impact on your weight.

The thyroid controls how your body's cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism.

Among other things, your metabolism affects your body’s temperature, your heartbeat, and how well you burn calories.

If you don't have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes slow down.

That means your body makes less energy, and your metabolism becomes sluggish.

But while many people think their inability to lose weight is due to their thyroid, often that is not the case. Low thyroid affects up to about 10 percent of the general population.

Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:


•​Unexplained weight gain


•​Dry skin

•​Foggy memory .

•High cholesterol

•​Feeling cold

•​Low heart rate If you have most of these symptoms, check with your doctor about getting tested for hypothyroidism.

Hypogonadism (a.k.a., low testosterone or “low T,” men only)

Male hypogonadism is a condition in which the body doesn't produce enough of the hormone that plays a key role in masculine growth and development during puberty (testosterone) or enough sperm or both.

If you’re a man with low testosterone, you may find it harder to lose weight.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone:

•​Low libido (sex drive)

•​Decreased ability to get and/or keep erections

•​Decrease in facial hair (less shaving)

•​Feeling weak and tired/decreased energy levels


One of the most common causes for lower testosterone in men today is obesity itself (along with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes).

If this is the case, losing weight will actually help bump up your testosterone.

You may decide to opt for testosterone replacement therapy even if the cause is obesity, because it will help you build muscle, lose weight, and feel better.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS, women only)

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal condition that women can get during their childbearing years. It can affect your ability to have a child (your doctor will call it your fertility).

It can also

  • Stop your periods or make them hard to predict

  • Cause acne and unwanted body and facial hair

  • Raise your risk of other health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure

The relationship between PCOS and weight gain and obesity isn’t perfectly straightforward.

Only around half of women with PCOS are overweight

Binge Eating Disorder

While many physicians and health coaches don’t recognize this as a disorder in their clients, it is a real issue that needs to be addressed.

Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating.

Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal.

But for some people, excessive overeating that feels out of control and becomes a regular occurrence crosses the line to binge-eating disorder.

Around 50 percent of those with binge-eating disorder are obese, and this can become a major barrier to weight loss if left unaddressed.


Most people with binge-eating disorder are overweight or obese, but you may be at a normal weight.

Behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder include:

•​Eating more rapidly than normal

•​Eating until feeling uncomfortably full

•​Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry

•​Eating alone because of embarrassment by the amount of food consumed

•​Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty after overeating

Although there's no sure way to prevent binge-eating disorder,

if you have symptoms of binge eating, seek professional help. Your medical care provider can advise you on where to get help.

Can Menopause Cause Weight Gain?

As you get older, you might notice that maintaining your usual weight becomes more difficult.

In fact, many women gain weight around the menopause transition.

Menopause weight gain isn't inevitable, however. You can reverse course by paying attention to healthy-eating habits and leading an active lifestyl

Thus, weight gain can occur around menopause. It’s unclear looking at the research, whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps with weight loss.

However, HRT may help reduce the visceral fat stored in your abdomen.

Either way, a good lifestyle plan is probably the most effective choice.

So Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

There are other rare genetic syndromes and issues that cause weight gain, so if you feel like there is something else going on, find an obesity specialist who can determine the culprit.



My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Consistency leaves clues

Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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