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Publication: Diet Buddy
Strange Weight Gain?

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         Diet Buddy - Monday, January, 29, 2007

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Strange Weight Gain?

Hi There Buddies...

Todays issue can certainly make you feel like you're 
running in circles and losing the weight loss battle.  

You watch what you eat, you follow your exercise routine, 
but it seems your clothes are getting tighter and the scale 
is reading some strange new number, showing you've GAINED 
weight this month.

It can be extremely frustrating to realize that all your 
hard work and efforts are not being very effective, 
especially when you're trying your very best to stay on 
track. While there can be many underlying causes for you 
to start gaining weight for no apparent reason, this is 
probably one you weren't thinking of...

Check in your medicine cabinet...you can probably find the 
answer there.

Let's take a look at what different types of medications 
can do to our weight loss plan and how we can possibly 
avoid that extra weight gain, by Charlene Laino - WebMD 
Weight Loss Clinic.  

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What Is Going On?

This may be a bit hard to swallow, but a medication your 
doctor prescribed could be to blame.  Certain prescription 
drugs used to treat mood disorders, seizures, migraines, 
diabetes, and even high blood pressure can cause weight 
gain sometimes 10 pounds a month.  Some steroids, hormone 
replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives can also 
cause unwanted pounds to creep up on you.

But even if you suspect a prescription medication is 
causing weight gain, never stop taking the drug without 
consulting your doctor, experts stress.

"Stopping some of these medications on your own can have 
very serious consequences," says Louis Aronne, MD, director 
of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program in New York 
City and president of the North American Association for 
the Study of Obesity.  "It has to be done very carefully."

Madelyn H. Fernstrom, PhD, director of the Weight 
Management Center at the University of Pittsburg Medcial 
Center, agrees. Even if a medication causes weight gain, 
"an extra 10 pounds may be worth the trade-off of what 
that medication is doing for your overall health," she 

Common Offenders That Can Cause Weight Gain!

While no one knows exactly how many prescription drugs can 
cause weight gain, experts estimate the list includes more 
than 50 common medications.

Steroids such as prednisone, older antidepressants such as 
Elavil and Tofranil, and second-generation antipsychotics 
like Zyprexa are the biggest - and most recognized - 
promoters of weight gain, Fernstrom says.

Some other common offenders, says Fernstrom, include 
the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft, the antiseizure 
medication Depakote, diabetes drugs like Diabeta and 
Diabinese, and the high blood pressure drugs Cardura and 
Inderal.  Heartburn drugs Like Nexium and Prevacid may 
also cause drug-induced weight gain.

Fernstrom tells WebMD that the medication-associated 
weight gain can be modest - or as much as 30 pounds over 
several months.

And in some cases, it is unrelated to the action of the 
drug itself," she adds.  "For example, if an antidepressant 
makes people feel better, their appetite may be restored 
and they eat more.

Making matters more complicated is that some drugs, like 
Prevacid and Nexium, can cause weight gain in some people 
and weight loss in others.

"Not all drugs have the same side efects for all people," 
she says.  "You have to work with your doctor to find the 
drug that's right for you."

Aronne says he warns against putting too much stock in a 
list of specific drugs that cause weight gain.

"What you need to know, " he tells WebMD, "is that certain 
types of drugs can cause weight gain."  But in almost 
every case, the doctor will be able to switch you to 
another medication that has the same desirable effects, 
but which will not cause weight gain and may even help 
you shed a few pounds, he says. 


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For example, while some drugs used to treat depression and 
other mood disorders can cause weight gain, the 
antidepressants Wellbutrin and Prozac tend to help people 
lose weight, says Aronne, who is also clinical professor of 
medicine at Weill-Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Ditto for diabetes medications.  "Yes, some can induce 
weight gain, but Glucophage and Precose are both weight-
neutral, while two newer drugs - Byetta and Symlin - can 
actually help you lose weight," he says.

As for medications used to treat seizure disorders and 
headaches, Aronne says that Zonegran and Topomax are good 
alternatives that are both asscociated with weight loss.

Aronne recalls the case of one 190-pound woman being 
treated for migraine headaches who came to his obesity 
clinic.  His team tried a variety of measures, even a 
liquid diet, to help her shed the unhealthy excess 
weight, but she stabilized after losing only 10 pounds.

"Then we switched her to a different medication, Topomax, 
for her migraines," he recalls.  "She lost 50 pounds and 
has stabilized at a healthy 133 pounds.  I can offer 
dozens of more examples just like this."

When To Suspect Drugs Are To Blame For Weight Gain!

Fernstrom says you should suspect your medcine cabinet 
is at the root of your problem if you gain five or more 
pounds in a month without overeating or exercising less.

"You have to look at your lifestyle carefully and then if 
you still can't explain those extra pounds, you should 
begin to suspect it's your medication, particularly if you 
recently started a new medication," she says.

At that point, you can check the package insert or ask your 
pharmacist if weight gain is among the side effects of your 
medication.  But the insert may not be as helpful as you 
might think, often simply listing weight gain as a 
"frequent" side effect, along with a dozen or so other 
side effects that may include weight loss, says George 
Blackburn, MD, PhD, an obesity expert at Harvard Medical 

"You really need to see a doctor," and not just rely on 
lists or package inserts, he tells WebMD.

Being Proactive! 

So is there anything you can do to guard against 
prescription drug-induced weight gain? Most importantly, 
be proactive, Blackburn says.

"While doctors should be measuring your body weight at 
each visit and looking for change, they don't always do 
that," he explains.  So if you gained five pounds in a 
month, report that back to your doctor."

Even then, many family doctors may not realize that weight 
gain can grow out of the medicine chest, Aronne says.  
"We're trying to educate general practitioners about the 
possible role of prescription medications in causing weight 
gain, but not all are tuned into this," he says.

Noting that psychiatrists and obesity specialists are more 
aware of the problem, Aronne suggests asking for a referral 
if needed.

"But I am not talking about a self-proclaimed weight loss 
specialist practicing in a strip mall; you want to get a 
specialist who is of the same caliber that you would go to 
for any medical problem," he stresses.

Even if you have to wait a month for an appointment, do 
not stop taking a drug you suspect is causing you to gain 
weight on your own, he adds.  Instead prepare for the visit 
by keeping a food diary of what you eat and when you eat - 
"probably the best behavioral tool out there for losing 

You should also take steps to help work off any excess 
pounds, Ferstrom adds.

"Be a mindful eater, knowing you are at risk for weight 
gain," she says.

Also, get a pedometer and start walking.  "You can burn 
off 100 calories with every 2,500 steps, so walking just 
45 minutes a day can help offset drug-induced weight 
gain," she says.

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Did You Know ???

That medication may interfere with certain brain chemicals 
and affect a part of your brain called the hypothalamus.  
The hypothalamus deals with the feeling of hunger and 
appetite.  If this is stimulated by the medication you are 
taking you may become hungry and eat more, resulting in 
weight gain.

From our Buddy...

My Doctor put me on Avandamet in September and since then 
I have gained 13 pounds.  I weigh the most I have ever 
weighed in my life.  I have just come back from the Dr. 
and found out that yes, it was indeed the meds, and he is 
very happy with the fact that my A1c is down by 4 points.

Meanwhile I have been trying to lose weight for a wedding 
I am going to be in, in June.  I have been working out 
only to have the pounds come on instead of going off.  

I am now depressed as he has told me I will not lose the 
weight on this med and he will not take me off.  I am 
embarrassed at the way I look as I am almost 290 right now. 
I am having trouble finding clothes to fit and of course 
the beautiful dress I was wearing to the wedding is nowhere 
near going to fit.  Please help. 
My Dr. is happy...my parents say if I wanted to lose it I 
could...I am at my wits end and disgusted.  Susan

Hi Susan...

I can certainly understand your frustration and hope you 
have read above article carefully.  While it is encouraging 
of your Doctor to solve one problem, he seems to have 
overlooked another...and that is your weight!  Your extra 
weight will more than likely be the culprit of a whole new 
series of problems if not dealt with sooner than later.

I would most definitely print out above column and show 
it to him.  Hopefully he will change your medication to 
something that will also help with your weight issue.  
Solving one problem only to neglect another won't help 
your overall well-being, especially if you are getting 
depressed, and I don't blame you.  If your Doctor feels 
he can't help you, ask him to recommend someone who can.  
You're physical and mental health is far too important to 
let it slide. 

You can also go online and type in "obesity specialists or 
doctors" for your area, and see what you come up with.
Hope this helps and I wish you a wonderful time at the 
wedding. :)

Are your meds making you gain weight? Why not take the 
time to start a new discussion in our Diet Buddy Forum 
at... The Diet Buddy Forum

Have a great week everyone !!!

Disclaimer:  Since I am not a medical professional, any 
statements in this column are strictly based on research I 
have done and should not be misconstrued as medical advice.

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