Thyroid & Obesity:

Obesity and Hypothyroidism may be two separate clinical conditions but studies have suggested a close link between them. This connection has been exposed more when the causes of obesity has been explored more in detail. The undisputed rise in obesity cases is also a factor in researchers exploring the causes of this menace. The researchers have come to a conclusion that obesity and an underperforming thyroid may have a link[1].

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The inverse of it also holds a lot of ground where obesity has a lot to do with the changes in the levels of TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. Despite of its small size, the thyroid gland plays a key role in various body functions right from weight management to the mood of an individual. The thyroid gland also plays a vital role in providing energy to the body by affecting the metabolism rate[2].

If due to any reason the thyroid gland stops functioning the way it should then it may lead to various complications. Among all the abnormalities that an abnormal thyroid function can cause, weight gain is something which has been widely discussed and this is has been explained in detail in the article below[2].

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Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?

The answer to this question is yes, an abnormal thyroid function can lead to weight gain. Studies suggest that the composition of the body is closely linked to the thyroid hormones. These hormones help in the metabolic function of the body. The hormone also affects the way lipids and glucose is metabolized in the body. TSH also affects the resting energy and total energy spent by the body with or without physical activity[1].

Thus it can be safely said that there is a close connection between thyroid and changes in body weight. An underactive thyroid which is a pathological condition called hypothyroidism results in decreased metabolism and reduced temperature regulation in addition to a higher body mass index or BMI[3].

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This has been corroborated with various data showing high prevalence of hypothyroidism in obese people. There is also evidence that suggests that even subclinical hypothyroidism which is the mildest form of thyroid dysfunction is also linked to significant changes in the weight of an individual and is a big risk factor for obesity[1].

However how much weight that an individual will gain due to dysfunctional thyroid remains to be established concretely. It is also to be seen that if the thyroid levels are low but well within the normal range leads to weight gain or not as there is no clinical data to prove this. The question now arises as to what causes a dysfunctional thyroid gland[2].

The most common condition that is seen with an abnormal thyroid gland is Hashimoto Thyroiditis. It is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system of the body attacks the thyroid gland. Gradually as the condition progresses the thyroid gland loses its ability to produce enough thyroid stimulating hormone. Hashimoto Thyroiditis is a familial disorder and is seen commonly in females about the age of 35[2].

There are no initial symptoms of this condition but over time goiter, fatigue, temperature sensitivity is experienced. It is now when the individual starts experiencing weight gain along with other well-known symptoms of hypothyroidism[2].

There are also certain other medical conditions which can cause hypothyroidism like a viral infection, radiation treatments for some form of cancer around the region of the thyroid gland, and some classes of medications. Iodine deficiency is one of the major causes of hypothyroidism in the United States. Pregnancy is also one of the causes of an underactive thyroid causing weight gain[1].

In conclusion, it is clearly proved that thyroid can make an individual fat. However, the extent of weight gain is not clearly understood. Having an abnormal thyroid function is not an excuse for anyone to stop exercising thinking that nothing can be done to control the weight.

Yes, it may be tough initially and will take longer but eventually physical activity will bring about the required change in the body weight and is the way to go. For thyroid dysfunction there are treatments available which bring the thyroid back to as close as normal. Thus having an abnormal thyroid should not dissuade an individual from losing interest in losing weight and staying fit.

References:  

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: July 20, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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