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An analysis recently published in the journal Obesity found that 1 in 5 American adults takes a prescription medication that has the potential to cause weight gain as a side effect–technically referred to as a obesogenic medication.

These include medications prescribed for seizure disorders, inflammatory conditions, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotics. They also include drugs commonly used to manage high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, conditions where overweight and obesity can be a complicating factor.

Ted Kyle is a pharmacist who has dedicated his career to addressing and educating about health issues created by obesity. He is very involved in advocacy and serves on the Board of Directors for the Obesity Action Coalition. He was previously Director of Policy and Innovation for GlaxoSmithKline.

You can listen to our entire conversation by clicking the play button above, or find Nutrition Diva on a slew of popular podcast apps.

Below are highlights of our conversation:

Monica: What is the mechanism (or mechanisms) by which a medication might cause weight gain?

Ted: There are a variety of mechanisms. A drug may increase your appetite, or it may affect your metabolism or the way your body processed food or stores fat, or it could make you more lethargic. Different drugs work in different ways, and each of us is going to be affected differently by drugs.





Monica: When weight gain is a known side effect, does it tend to affect a majority or minority of users?

Ted: There are some categories of drugs, for example, the anti-psychotics, where weight gain is very common and perhaps affects the majority of users. For other drugs, it’s more idiosyncratic and will vary with the drug, and with the person.

Monica: Are there other issues or factors that might predispose someone to medication-induced weight gain? Are people who gain weight on a medication more likely to be people who have always struggled with their weight?

Ted: Not necessarily. There are people who have never had an issue with obesity until they began a specific medication.

Monica: Are there cases where a drug that causes weight gain is more effective than the alternatives (or has other advantages)?

Ted: In the study you referenced, they noticed an increase in prescriptions for anti-seizure medications that cause weight gain and...

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