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Underactive Thyroid Activity Could be a Reason for Weight Gain!

Posted Jan 19 2009 1:20am
Once a person starts gaining weight, he or she will also start worrying because evidence has shown that overweight will ultimately lead one to diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, and even certain type of cancer.

Besides genes, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity, weight gain can also occur among adults having lower thyroid activity.

Researchers from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Maryland found that middle-aged adults having mildly underactive thyroid gland, which still functions in the normal range, might prone to weight gain. Their findings appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine during April 2008.

Thyroid is a gland found in one’s neck, which produces hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. When a disorder known as hypothyroidism occurs, the gland would be underactive and this in turn causes symptoms like sensitivity to cold, dry skin, fatigue and weight gain. However, scientists are not sure whether thyroid function within standard range will lead to weight gain.

The new study examined the relationship between levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and body weight of more than 2,400 middle-aged adults. In order to stimulate hormone production in the thyroid gland, TSH is released by the brain. Lower activity in the thyroid is reflected when higher TSH levels are found in the blood.

According to the researchers, men and women in the study tended to gain weight when their TSH levels were relatively high but still normal, as compared with those with lower TSH concentrations. Moreover, those participants with TSH levels tipped upwards over the next several years were prone to weight gain.

Though the new findings revealed the possibility of weight gain because of modest increase in serum TSH concentrations within the reference range, it is still too early for scientists to start finding ways to treat obesity by dealing with thyroid hormones. In the meantime, the researchers suggested more research should be done to confirm their findings, and to understand why TSH levels are connected to weight.

The management of metabolism through interaction between the nervous system and hormone-producing glands is rather complex. While the entire system including thyroid hormones might affect weight and obesity risk, obesity might also be capable of influencing the system. In fact, several studies have shown that excess fat tissue might also directly affect TSH levels.
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