Weight gain not normally a medication issue

by Shalyn Roberts

Dec 11, 2008 | Davis County Clipper

DAVIS COUNTY — Patients typically have concerns about gaining weight when starting on a new medication, but pharmacists say weight gain is not typically an issue on newer medications.

According to representatives at Lakeview Hospital, studies have not been done nor documented to really prove or disprove large amounts of weight gain with any given medication. Individuals react differently and although a person can gain between five and 10 pounds on a long-term basis while taking certain medications, it does not mean everyone taking that same pill will gain weight.

“In some animal studies, they have found an increase of enzymes in the brain directly related to appetite,” said Lakeview Hospital pharmacist, Mike Shurtz.

He said that some people may be more susceptible to weight gain than others, but in general, people don’t need to worry about gaining too much weight on medication. Newer technology and research has also found ways around impacting weight, resulting in new drugs that don’t have a high risk of side effects.

“The newer anti-depressants and anti-psychotics don’t have as high a risk on weight gain as they used to,” said Shurtz.

However, Shurtz does agree that for some people, weight gain can still be a problem with medication. “You have to make priorities in that case,” he said. “Do I want to take the medication and risk gaining weight or feel the way I do all the time?’

He said diabetics tend to gain weight anyway, and the other two categories of highest risk are anti-depressants and anti-psychotics. A table is typically provided to doctors and pharmacists with details on just how high the risk of gaining weight — and other side effects — really is.

“I don’t think anyone would argue that it is not an issue,” said Shurtz. But, he said changing life-style and eating habits will always help a person to be more healthy.

“It’s just harder for some than others, and medication affects everyone differently.”

Shurtz did say that in trials that have been run, large groups of people taking these medications have been able to loose some weight simply by changing their eating habits. He said it is true that some people don’t realize medication doesn’t necessarily make a person gain weight, it simply increases a person’s appetite. “It just depends on the individual.” 

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Coach Lora Erickson is an Ironman All-World athlete and certified running and triathlon coach recently competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Africa in 2018. Lora was born and raised in Colorado and was to run for the University and Utah & Utah State University where she obtained a degree in Community Health Education with duel minors in Chemistry and Nutrition. Coach Lora has a true passion for health promotion and loves to share her experiences. Learn more: About Coach Lora Erickson