Obesity can sometimes signal endocrine issues
Are you losing your fight against weight loss? While weight gain may often be the result of eating too much and not exercising enough, there are endocrine disorders that can cause an influx in a person’s body weight.
Obesity is an excess of calories stored in the form of fat. It is an increasing public health and medical problem associated with reduced quality of health and lifespan. But there are many causes of obesity, including certain medical conditions, according to Dr. Nuzhat Chalisa, a board-certified endocrinologist with Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers.
“For those who are overweight, it might be worth getting checked out by a primary physician or a specialist to check for possible endocrine problems,” Dr. Chalisa says.
An endocrinologist is a medical doctor who treats disorders of the endocrine system which involves glands that produces hormones. Sometimes obesity can be due to medical problems such as glandular and hormonal problems.
Some of the hormonal problems that can cause weight gain includes underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), Cushing’s Syndrome (excess cortisol production), polycystic ovary syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, genetic syndromes such as Prader-Willi syndrome and medications such as glucocorticoids. All of these endocrine disorders can be diagnosed and treated, Dr. Chalisa says.
Even if you don’t have a medical condition causing weight gain, obesity can be a difficult problem to manage and consulting a health care professional might help. Dr. Chalisa says an endocrinologist can come up with an appropriate treatment plan for management of obesity after ruling out secondary causes.
The endocrine system controls some aspects of metabolism and hormone production and, therefore, can play a role in patient’s weight by influencing appetite, fat accumulation, blood sugar and energy levels.
“Excessive eating is an addiction,” Dr. Chalisa says. “Once you develop a pattern of consuming a diet high in sugar, it stimulates your brain and you become addicted to it. You want more and more of the same diet and when you try to stop, you get withdrawal symptoms and cravings in the same way as drugs like cocaine and heroin.”
According to Dr. Chalisa, the most effective way to lose weight is to work on a balanced lifestyle with good choices about the type and amount of food you eat and regular physical activity. Getting an adequate amount sleep is also critical. There are many studies that have proved that lack of sleep promotes obesity.
It is important to have a team of trusted medical experts to determine if there is an underlying cause of obesity. An endocrinologist, for instance, can diagnose medical issues causing obesity, manage the condition and, at times, refer patients to obesity clinics.
“With the help of a team,” Dr.Chalisa says, “you can work on slowly changing your behavior, and the brain slowly learns to get rid of the habit. Reaching your optimum weight is something that’s very important and has a huge health benefit. The good news is that many of the consequences of being overweight are preventable.