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Diseases that make losing weight tough

Q: I’m just about ready to give up trying to lose weight. It seems like no matter what I do I cant get rid of the extra pounds. What am I overlooking?

A: Diet and exercise are effective for weight loss, but for some people, despite their efforts, the pounds still accumulate. Los Angeles dermatologic surgeon Dr. David Amron discusses certain diseases that can make it hard to lose weight even with working out and eating properly.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A common condition among females of reproductive age, PCOS impacts millions of women. The condition can make it harder to keep weight off, and the excess pounds are often around the midsection. Weight gain with PCOS is gradual, happening in small amounts over the course of many years.

Cushing’s syndrome: When the body is exposed to excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol for long periods of time, this slows and nearly disables, the functions of the metabolism. Symptoms include a build up of fatty deposits in the face, between the shoulders, upper back and midsection. Females account for roughly 70 percent of all Cushing’s Syndrome cases.

Lipedema: Almost exclusively found in females, lipedema has no cure and affects 11 percent of women nationwide, or roughly 17 million. This chronic disorder causes an abnormal accumulation of fatty tissue to develop in the legs, buttocks and sometimes the arms, resulting in a noticeably disproportionate appearance. One of the most misunderstood and unknown diseases, lipedema can strike thin and obese individuals alike. Generally, no amount of diet or exercise can prevent it from occurring.

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can cause symptoms such as unexplained weight gain, fatigue, dry skin, hoarseness, puffy face, depression and sensitivity to the cold. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland help to maintain the rate at which your body utilizes carbohydrates and fats and regulates production of proteins. Anyone can develop hypothyroidism but increased risk can occur for women over 60, having an autoimmune disease, having received radiation to the neck or upper chest, pregnancy, and certain medications.

Genetics, poor sleep habits and blood sugar disturbances can also make it harder to lose weight. Replacing high-calorie drinks with water, along with eating foods that contain sufficient amounts of fiber and quality nutrients help to keep blood sugar steady and naturally control appetite.

The amount of sleep we get influences the hormones insulin, glucose and cortisol, as well as leptin and ghrelin, responsible for regulating hunger. Leptin signals the brain to stop eating, and those who are sleep-deprived have less of this hormone. Ghrelin’s job is to signal you to eat. It has been shown that those who are sleep-deprived have more of this hormone. The combination of more ghrelin and less leptin promotes weight gain.

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