weight loss reasons
Woman is measuring waist after weight loss, diet concept. Woman in oversize jeans

Weight loss definition

Weight loss, in the context of medicine, health, or physical fitness, refers to a reduction of the total body mass, due to a mean loss of fluid, body fat or adipose tissue or lean mass, namely bone mineral deposits, muscle, tendon, and other connective tissue. There are several reasons for weight loss this can include:

Overactive thyroid

Weight loss is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism or an over-active thyroid, Dr. Cappola says. This means your thyroid the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that helps regulate your metabolism and growthis pumping out too many hormones, resulting in a slew of body changes. the thyroid gland helps regulate your body temperature and control your heart rate and metabolism (the process that turns the food you eat into energy). “If I suspected a thyroid issue, I’d probably look for increased hunger or heart palpitations,” she explains. Sleeping problems or feeling hot all the time are also common symptoms of an over-active thyroid, she says.


Another cause of unwanted weight loss is type 1 diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, your immune system attacks cells in your pancreas that make insulin In people with diabetes, insufficient insulin prevents the body from getting glucose from the blood into the body’s cells to use as energy. When this occurs, the body starts burning fat and muscle for energy, causing a reduction in overall bodyweight. Treatment of type 1 diabetes includes insulin, blood sugar monitoring, diet modifications, and exercise. There are diabetes warning signs and symptoms that both women and men have in common, for example: Excessive thirst and hunger,requent urination (from urinary tract infections or kidney problems), Fatigue, Irritability., Blurred vision, Slow-healing wounds and Nausea.


Weight loss may be a side effect of depression, which is defined as feeling sad, lost, or empty for at least two weeks. These emotions interfere with daily activities, such as going to work or school. Depression affects the same parts of the brain that control appetite. This can lead to poor appetite, and eventually, weight loss. Changes in your eating habits may be related to other symptoms of depression, such as fatigue and a lack of pleasure from activities. “Many people with depression lose both energy and interest. While loss of appetite is a common depression symptom, feelings of sadness or worthlessness can make some people overeat. Other symptoms of depression include:constant sadness, loss of interest in hobbies, low energy, poor concentration, sleeping too little or too much, thoughts of death or suicide and irritability


Most people with cancer will lose weight at some point. When you lose weight for no known reason, it’s called an unexplained weight loss. An unexplained weight loss of 10 pounds or more may be the first sign of cancer. This happens most often with cancers of the pancreas, stomach, esophagus (swallowing tube), or lung According to the American Cancer Society, Cancer increases inflammation. This promotes muscle wasting and disrupts appetite-regulating hormones. A growing tumor may also increase your resting energy expenditure (REE), or how much energy your body burns at rest.Early symptoms of cancer also include: fever, fatigue, pain and skin changes


Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It’s more common in people with untreated or severe disease, an infection, or a high viral load, which is a high concentration of the virus in the blood. When you have HIV, things that can cause you to lose weight include:

-The HIV virus itself.

-HIV drugs, which dull your appetite, make food taste bad, or make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients.

HIV Symptoms like nausea and mouth sores can make eating unpleasant.

-Diarrhea and other digestive problems can make it harder to take in nutrients from foods.

-Exhaustion can slow you down, keep you from grocery shopping, and limit your ability to prepare healthy meals.

-If you have advanced disease, high levels of HIV virus in your blood, or other infections, you may need more calories.

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of your digestive tract. Types of IBD include: Ulcerative colitis. This condition causes long-lasting inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum. Unexpected weight loss may be a symptom of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The chronic inflammation of IBD puts your body in a catabolic state, which means that it’s constantly using up energy.IBD also disrupts ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and leptin, the satiety hormone. This results in decreased appetite and weight loss.


As many as 80 percent of moms-to-be experience some form of pregnancy nausea, which can make keeping even the blandest food down a real challenge  resulting  in some loose-fitting cloths. Pregnancy related weight loss especially in the first trimester are related to nausea morning sickness, or due to the fact that your body is using more calories during pregnancy.

Substance abuse (alcohol, cocaine, other)

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. Psychoactive substance use can lead to dependence syndrome – a cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and that typically include a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, Long-term cocaine use causes profound metabolic changes that reduce the body’s ability to store fat leading to weight loss through appetite suppression. However, Cocaine use may also  result in dramatic weight gain during recovery, a distressing phenomenon that can lead to relapse



There are medicines for serious medical conditions such as cancer, HIV and dementia, which suppress the appetite and can cause extreme weight loss and anorexia. This medications include:

Anorexic medications

Appetite suppressing medications can be divided into a number of categories such as anti-infective drugs, antineoplastics, bronchodilators, cardiovascular drugs, stimulants and other medicines.

Anti-infective drugs:

-Antibacterial – Metronidazole

-Antifungals – Amphotericin B

-Antimalarials – Atovaquone,  Pyrimethamine

-Antiretrovirals – Didanosine,  Zalcitabine

-Anti-TB – Ethionamide

Antineoplastic or anticancer drugs, also used to treat HIV and conditions such as psoriasis:

Aldesleukin and interleukin-2, Capecitabine, Carboplatin, Cytarabine, Dacarbazine, Fluorouracil, Hydroxyurea, Imatinib, Irinotecan, Methotrexate, Vinblastine sulphate, Vinorelbine tartrate

Bronchodilators used to treat asthma, bronchospasm, bronchitis, emphysema:

-Salbutamol sulphate


(Cardiovascular drugs:

Amiodarone, Acetazolamide, Hydralazine HCl, Quinidine

(Mahan et al, 2011; MIMS, 2011)


Methylphenidate HCl – used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy Phentermine – used in the appetite suppressant Duromine for slimming

Other medications:

Fluoxetine – antidepressant

Galantamine and Rivastigmine  – used to treat dementia in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease

Sibutramine – used in slimming pills such as Ciplatrim

Sulphasalazine – used to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease

Topiramate – anti-epileptic medication

Tips for safe weight reduction

Keep a food and exercise diary: People who log their intake and activity tend to be more successful at weight loss.

Eat a variety of plant-based foods: including plenty of fruits and vegetables. At each meal, cover one-half (or more) of your plate with vegetables, cover one-quarter with whole grains, and cover one-quarter with protein.

Eat regularly timed meals: (especially breakfast) and snacks because skipping them can lead to overeating later in the day.

When you feel like you have eaten enough, stop: Often cravings disappear, so if you still feel hungry or unsatisfied after a meal or snack, wait at least 10 minutes before you have more food.

Plan meals and prepare snacks ahead of time: Snack on fresh vegetables for crunch and fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Limit Alcohol: Limit the amount of alcohol (beer, wine and liquor) that you drink.

Try to limit screen time : (computers or television) to two hours or less per day. Increase physical activity instead.

Sleep 8-8.5 hours per night: Studies show that lack of sleep is linked to obesity.

Smaller Portions: Eat your favorite high-calorie foods like desserts less frequently and in smaller portions (you don’t have to eliminate them altogether).

Information: Know your daily calorie and serving size “budget.” Any weight reduction plan should include more than 1400 calories per day. Take care when eating out, because restaurants are notorious for large serving size. SEE: Stage 4 Lung Cancer Life Expectancy Without Treatment



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