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Three Conditions that Affect Your Weight

Updated on September 10, 2019
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Nicky is multispecialty Nurse Practitioner who is certified in Facial Esthetics (Botox and dermal fillers).

36-year-old actress Mila Kunis, known for her role as Jackie Burkhart on That ‘70s Show and the voice of Meg Griffin on Family Guy, knows a lot about acting but very little concerning certain medical conditions. The Ukrainian actress, after losing 20lbs on an already thin frame, expressed to British Glamour magazine that losing weight isn’t as difficult as many believe it to be. "I don't think I ever fully realized what a human body is capable of doing. I'm a huge foodie, I love food. But when people say, 'I can't lose weight,' no, no, no, you can," the actress expressed (Globeandmail, 2018).

Proper diet and exercise is essential to losing weight; however, for some people, losing weight isn't as easy. Many individuals have trouble managing their weight due to health issues. Health conditions that affects weight are hypothyroidism, cushing's syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).


The body’s metabolism is regulated by thyroid hormones. In hypothyroidism, the production of thyroid hormone is reduced which slows metabolism and energy consumption (Mendes, 2015). A slowed metabolism inevitably leads to easy weight gain and or difficulty with weight loss.

Damage to the thyroid gland is a leading cause of hypothyroidism. The most common example of thyroid gland damage is autoimmune or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Other causes of hypothyroidism include radiation treatments to the neck, viral thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, and radioactive iodine use. Certain medications can also lead to hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is most common in middle aged women. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain and depression. Cold sensitivity, constipation, dry skin, brittle nails, muscle aches and weakness, decrease appetite, loss of appetite, irregular or heavy periods are also common symptoms (Mendez, 2015).

Good news, hypothyroidism can be treated with medication. Adequate nutrition, supplementation and exercise are complementary to hypothyroidism treatment.


Cushing's Syndrome (CS)

Cushing’s Syndrome (CS) is another “weighty” hormonal disorder. CS also refers to as hypercortisolism, results from the body’s prolonged exposure to high levels of cortisol. Unlike hypothyroidism which generally affects women over 50, CS often affects individuals between ages 20 and 50. Physical manifestations of CS include a rounded face and upper body obesity. Affected children are often obese with slowed growth rates.

Individuals who take glucocorticoids for inflammatory diseases (asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthrits, etc) are at risk for developing CS. Organ transplant patients are also at risk for CS since glucocorticoids are used for immune system suppression after transplantation. Treatment of CS depends on the underlying reason for the body’s excess cortisol production.

In addition to weight gain, other symptoms of CS are unexplained fatigue, cognitive impairment, elevated blood pressure, and increased pigmentation of the skin (Yorke et al, 2017).

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) occurs with reproductive hormonal imbalance resulting in enlarged ovaries with small cysts. Women with PCOS usually have higher than usual androgen levels and lower than usual progesterone levels. High insulin levels, due to insulin resistance, is also hallmark of PCOS. Insulin affects how the body converts food into energy. So, women with PCOS are usually overweight with extreme difficulty with weight loss and management. Common symptoms of PCOS is weight gain, difficulty getting pregnant due to ovulatory failure, facial hair growth, and oily skin and acne.



Globe and Mail. Retrieved from:

Mendes, A. (2015). Recognising hypothyroidism in the community: what can nurses and patients do? British Journal of Community Nursing, 20(4), 200–202.

Yorke, E., Atiase, Y., Akpalu, J., & Sarfo-Kantanka, O. (2017). Screening for cushing syndrome at the primary care level: What every general practitioner must know. International Journal of Endocrinology, 1–6.

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This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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