1 in 5 Adults Take Medicines That May Lead to Weight Gain
As many as one in five American adults may take a prescription medicine that is obesogenic, meaning they may have a side effect of weight gain. Beta blockers are found to be the most common obesogenic medication prescribed, followed by certain diabetes medications.
With rising rates of obesity, understanding all the factors that could promote weight gain—for example, not being physically active, consuming a higher intake of calories, as well as whether taking certain medications that could play a role—is important.
What We Know About Weight Gain and Obesogenics
Knowing that weight gain can be an unintended effect of obesogenic medications, it’s a good idea to get a better sense of how many people take these medications, how trends have changed over time, as well as what types of medications are most commonly prescribed and for what reasons and if there is a link between using these medicines and someone being overweight or obese.
Overall, the use of obesogenic medications is higher among people who are more overweight or obese, but the use of medications in general also increases with greater weight, so it is difficult to know for sure if the medication causes the weight gain. In general, the amount of weight gain that might be expected likely varies based on the person and the medication(s) they use.
The most common reasons people take these medications are to help with blood glucose (blood sugar) levels, metabolism, high blood pressure, nerve irritation or pain, heart disease, musculoskeletal pain, and/or inflammation.
The problem is—health care professionals can’t agree on which medications are obesogenic. And because obesity is a leading risk factor in diabetes and heart disease, and some medications used to treat these conditions may also lead to weight gain, health care providers should review the medications and talk about goals for body weight to help create the best outcome.
Medications should always be coupled with lifestyle changes, including exercise, nutritious eating, and maintaining an ideal weight.