Every year, many people visit doctors in hopes of discovering an underlying cause for their struggle with obesity.
A lot of people go into these appointments assuming that there must be something wrong with their thyroid–the butterfly-shaped gland in the neck that produces hormones that can affect the body’s ability to lose weight.
In fact, many people who have struggled with weight actually hope to be diagnosed with a thyroid disorder.
Why would people hope this?
The sad reality is that many people would much rather pop a pill or have a surgery and lose weight, than have to change their diet and exercise more frequently.
Certainly, there are many patients who do have real thyroid issues that affect their weight, along with a whole bunch of other health problems.
That being said, only a very small number of people can truly attribute their symptoms to thyroid dysfunction.
So, are thyroid issues really a logical answer to America’s obesity epidemic? Or is claiming to have thyroid issues just a scapegoat for more serious underlying issues?
Keep reading to find out…
Thyroid and Weight Gain
As I mentioned earlier, your thyroid gland has many jobs including…
- Secreting chemicals that help regulate your heart rate.
- Helping your body regulate energy levels.
- Keeping your metabolism running efficiently.
When the gland isn’t functioning properly, it’s often due to the gland being too active or too inactive.
If your thyroid is overactive, you fall into a category of people with hyperthyroidism.
While hyperthyroidism is a legitimate health concern, people with this condition don’t usually struggle with weight issues. In fact, people often end up losing weight due to the overactive glands.
On the flipside, if you have a sluggish thyroid gland–known as hypothyroidism–then weight gain is a very logical side effect. After all, this type of condition greatly impacts your metabolism’s ability to function.
But how many people actually have hypothyroidism, and is it really the root cause of people’s struggles with obesity?
Let’s find out…
The Facts: Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
The National Institute of Health claims that about 4.6 percent of the U.S. population (5 in every 100) have hypothyroidism.
With a health issue that common, it’s easy to see how people might self-diagnose.
After all, the odds are pretty good that if you’re overweight, this could be the root cause of all your problems, right?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, and here’s why.
First and foremost, it’s important to look at the demographics of people who are diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
You may be shocked to learn that a good majority of people who suffer from this dysfunction are women over the age of 60. And it makes sense!
As we age, our bodies start to have a harder time regulating themselves.
It’s also important to point out that the women being diagnosed in their 60s don’t necessarily have any major weight or health issues–despite being diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Often, these women are given a medication to help regulate the issue, and it’s not a big deal.
Next, it’s vital to point out that there are multiple hypothyroidism diagnosis that fall under the umbrella of being diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.
For instance, Hashimoto’s disease is one disease that stems from having an underactive thyroid. But, in terms of symptoms, weight gain is only a mild symptom and doesn’t happen to everyone.
Another example is Graves’ disease.
While there are many health complications that occur due to this disease (such as racing heart or bulging eyes), weight gain is not really a major symptom.
For these reasons, it’s easy to see how a blanket diagnosis can be used to justify unusual weight gain when there are really other underlying issues at hand.
How to Tell If Weight Issues Are Caused by Your Thyroid
The only way to really know if your weight issues are caused by a thyroid malfunction is to go visit your doctor.
He or she must do a series of blood, urine, and saliva tests to really understand what’s happening in your body.
If you do have a thyroid disorder, your doctor will need to work with you to put together a plan to help you regain your health.
However, most people leave their appointments with the reassurance that their thyroid is functioning just fine.
This is good news!
If you have a healthy thyroid, you can quickly put yourself on the path to a healthier lifestyle with just a few adjustments to your lifestyle.
Yes, changing your diet or adding exercise into your routine may be a big life change for you. But, the first step in living a happy, healthy life is taking responsibility for how you treat your body.
Make a few lifestyle changes with the help of your doctor, and you’ll be on the path toward a happier, healthier, and more energized life.
Every few weeks, I host a FREE dinner seminar for non-CNHC members, and one of my talks is on stress and hormones. If you’ve never been to one of my talks and are interested in learning more, I invite you to check out my calendar to see when the next event is being held.