Unintentional weight gain is an increase in body weight that occurs when a person takes in more calories than the body needs or uses.
Almost 40% of all Americans are overweight. As we age, our metabolism slows, which can cause weight gain unless we also reduce the amount of food we eat and get adequate exercise.
Weight gain can also be a significant symptom of several endocrine diseases such as Cushing syndrome or hypothyroidism. It may also indicate a heart or lung disorder.
A continued weight gain occurs with pregnancy, whereas a periodic weight gain may occur with menstruation. A rapid weight gain may be a sign of dangerous fluid retention.
Take action by starting a proper diet and exercise program. Counseling may be helpful.
Set realistic weight goals to maintain a healthy weight. Consult with a health care provider about specific measures.
Contact your health care provider if the following symptoms occur along with the weight gain:
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination; measure your height and weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI); and ask questions about your weight gain, such as:
Tests that may be done include:
Weight gain caused by emotional problems may require psychological counseling. Talk to your health care provider about an appropriate diet and exercise program and realistic weight loss goals. If weight gain is caused by a physical illness, treatment (if there is any) for the underlying cause will be prescribed.
If weight continues to be a problem despite diet and exercise, talk with your health care provider about other treatment options, including medications and surgery.