Dieting and exercising, but still not losing weight?

KARACHI:You put in hours in the gym, measure every gram of food you eat and still don’t see the scale moving? There could be many reasons – from a medical problem to fitness myths that you are holding on to. Read to know why you may not be losing weight and what you can do about it. Apart from a structured weight loss plan, you need a proper diet guide and a healthy body to lose weight. If you’ve been struggling to reach your weight loss goals, maybe it is time to get yourself checked for some health conditions that could derail your best efforts.

According to Hindustan Times report, Obesity is a complex disorder/disease which involves excess amount of fat in the body. It is not just a cosmetic concern. It increases the risk of diseases and health problems like systemic heart disease, diabetes and blood pressure. There are genetic causes and behavioural causes associated with obesity. Beside lifestyle, unhealthy eating and inactivity, hormonal influences also lead to obesity.

Apart from these, there are certain medical conditions and medications which lead to weight gain. One such cause is reduced function of thyroid glands, called hypothyroidism, which results in weight gain. Dr Sheilja Singh, consultant internal medicine at Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Mumbai, says, “That’s because thyroid is a hormone associated with basic metabolic activity. When thyroid is produced in the correct proportion, we burn calories quickly. On the other hand, too little hormone slows the metabolism and often causes weight gain.”

PCOS is a hormonal disorder wherein women have excess androgen levels in the body. They develop irregular menstrual cycles. “The hormonal disruption also affects metabolic activity. Along with other symptoms such as unusual hair growth and acne, women with PCOS tend to put on weight, particularly on their abdomen,” shares Dr Vaishali Lokhande, consultant, internal medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Mumbai.

When a person gets little to zero physical activity, he/she ends up with musculoskeletal conditions. People who have osteoarthritis, or arthritis due to other conditions, have difficulty exercising and live a largely sedentary lifestyle. Dr Singh says, “Moreover, some medications given for these conditions contribute to obesity. These include steroids, anti-epileptics, antipsychotics and several anti-depressants. They all contribute to weight gain if they are not compensated with proper diet and exercise.”

Oral contraceptive pills increase the level of estrogen in the body which, in turn, could also cause weight gain. “High estrogen contributes to fluid retention and a larger appetite, in addition to fat deposition. It is reversible if the pills are taken for short duration,” says Dr Lokhande. Lipodystrophy, which is associated with HIV treatment, is linked to unusual fat deposits. “This is a condition where abnormal fat deposits form around the upper body, while fat loss happens over the face area,” says Dr Lokhande.

Common conditions like sleep deprivation or obstructive sleep apnea too cause weight gain and obesity. When a person sleeps less than six hours a night, two hormones called leptin and grelin come into play. Leptin, secreted by the brain, gives you satiety. While grelin hormone is secreted by the stomach, causes cravings for food. “When we sleep less, leptin reduces, and so does satiety. Also, grelin increases, because of which the person experiences frequent hunger. The choice of food in such cases tends to take a turn for the worse. In this way, sleep deprivation leads to obesity because of imbalance of these two hormones,” explains Dr Singh.