Hormonal weight gain affects more than half of the world’s population (as per a rough estimate). Since this potentially leads to obesity or overweight, data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a three-fold increase in the same on a global plane.
Additionally, noting that the mortality rates caused by overweight/obesity secondary to hormonal fluctuations or imbalances are high in some countries and affect children and adults (men and women) alike, the current article seeks to analyze the symptoms and causes of weight gain caused by hormones in these population groups with suggestions for preventive measures to solve pertinent issues related to the same.
What Is Hormonal Weight Gain?
Hormonal weight gain refers to the hormonal imbalances responsible for causing weight gain. As stated earlier, it affects both children and adults, even causing serious complications, and also leading to death due to the inability to reduce excess weight, either through natural means or surgery.
While hormonal weight gain in adults, especially men, occurs due to excessive stress, this, in turn, results in the buildup of high cortisol levels in the body to further cause (or induce) the production of fat cells. All these likely lead to slowed metabolism rates in the male population.
For women, hormonal weight gain presents as reduced levels of estradiol, a specific estrogen hormone during menopause, which otherwise helps regulate metabolic rates and body weight. Hormonal weight gain in women thus presents as weight gain around their hips and thighs throughout their life.
In children, weight gain due to hormonal imbalances manifests as poor height growth and a resultant short stature. Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome, and growth hormone deficiency are highly attributable to these conditions in children.
Factors Causing Hormonal Weight Gain
There exist various factors, such as thyroid hormone deficiency, estrogen hormone dominance, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) besides growth hormone deficiency and excess cortisol buildup (Endocrinology Consultants, 2023).
⚡Thyroid Hormone Deficiency: This condition is common in men, women, and children and presents as decreased metabolism with inappropriate caloric burning. Overt hypothyroidism has been known to cause modest weight gain, though there is no evidence in regard to subclinical hypothyroidism and its effects. Nevertheless, thyroid function tests are generally recommended by physicians to routinely screen overweight/obese patients.
⚡Estrogen Hormone Deficiency: When ovaries no longer produce estrogen, it looks for other sources to produce the same, and it is the fat cells that happen to be its substitute. For regaining estrogen balance, the body tends to convert all these energy sources into fat, which leads to weight gain (in women).
⚡Insulin Resistance: An increase in insulin production due to insulin resistance for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels leads to excess buildup of insulin levels, further resulting in weight gain, thus worsening insulin resistance in the process.
⚡Metabolic Syndrome: One of the reasons why weight gain occurs is metabolic syndrome, which is directly linked to insulin resistance. While the digestive system helps break down food into sugar, it is the insulin that helps sugar enter the blood cells. What happens in insulin resistance is that the cells do not respond to this hormone produced by the pancreas, further resulting in the accumulation of sugar in the body, where this could have been otherwise used as fuel (energy).
⚡Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Since symptoms such as excessive body hair growth, acne, irregular periods, and weight gain occur due to high androgen levels (male hormone) in women, this weight gain is shown mostly in a woman’s abdomen similar to what can be seen in men.
Symptoms Of Hormonal Weight Gain
Generally speaking, and most commonly hormonal weight gain symptoms present as thyroid goiter, fatigue, muscle weakness (proximal), moon faces, central obesity, acne, and hirsutism. While in children, these can manifest as weight gain around the face, trunk, shoulders, and upper back. Additionally, depression with a loss of interest in activities can also lead to weight gain in this younger population.
Methods To Prevent Hormonal Weight Gain
The following methods have been recognized to prevent weight gain related to hormonal imbalance.
- Improving dietary choices
- Getting more sleep
- Regular exercises
- Effective management of stress levels
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol intake
The current article revolved around hormonal weight gain, taking into consideration the vivid manifestations-cum-symptoms of the same in both the child and adult populations. Factors causing hormonal weight gain in these stated groups were briefly discussed including growth hormone deficiency (in children), insulin resistance, thyroid hormone deficiency, metabolic syndrome, estrogen hormone deficiency, and polycystic ovarian disease. Additionally, applicable methods were suggested to reduce/prevent this condition and avoid further complications thereof.