Is Your Medicine Cabinet Making You Fat?
Experts explain how certain prescription drugs can cause unwanted weight gain
By Charlene Laino
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
You've been watching your diet and following your usual exercise routine. But your pants seem a little tight and, sure enough, the scale shows that you've gained five pounds in the past month.
What's going on?
This may be hard to swallow, but a medication your doctor prescribed could be to blame. Certain prescription drugs used to treat mood disorders, seizures, migraines, diabetes, and even high blood pressure can cause weight gain - sometimes 10 pounds a month. Some steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives can also cause unwanted pounds to creep up on you.
But even if you suspect a prescription medication is causing weight gain, never stop taking the drug without consulting your doctor, experts stress.
"Stopping some of these medications on your own can have very serious consequences," says Louis Aronne, MD, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program in New York City and president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. "It has to be done very carefully."
Madelyn H. Fernstrom, PhD, director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, agrees. Even if a medication causes weight gain, "an extra 10 pounds may be worth the trade-off of what that medication is doing for your overall health," she says.