Hidden medical causes of weight gain

Published 4:04 AM ET, Thu February 23, 2017
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Are you sure those extra pounds are caused by a lack of willpower, or could there be an underlying medical issue? Shutterstock
The stress hormone cortisol regulates appetite, body composition and metabolism. Studies show that prolonged exposure to stress is related to high body mass and obesity.
It's hard to beat a stress habit, but experts suggest trying to choose better coping habits than comfort food. Look to yoga, medication, deep breathing and mindfulness exercises.
The culprit for your recent weight gain could be hiding in your medication cabinet. A variety of medications are frequently associated with weight gain, most notoriously antidepressants. Be sure to read up on side effects and discuss options with your psychiatrist. Shutterstock
Ovarian cancer is a rare but deadly reason for a bloated belly. It usually goes along with other telltale signs such as abdominal pain, urinary frequency, postmenopausal and anal bleeding, and a loss of appetite. So if you've suddenly developed abdominal distension in the past few months and have any of these other symptoms, see a doctor immediately. And don't rely on the results of your Pap test; that's effective only in the early detection of cervical cancer. Shutterstock
Some diabetes medications, such as insulin, are notorious for adding on pounds. That's especially vexing when being overweight has contributed to the development of the disease. Experts suggest working closely with your doctor to see whether some of the more weight-friendly diabetes medications are an option. Shutterstock
Chronic constipation can also lead to abdominal bloating as well as gas, cramps and sharp, stabbing pains. Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Be sure to eat foods with plenty of fiber and drink a lot of water, but if that doesn't solve the problem, it may be time for a visit to your health practitioner. Shutterstock
Suffering from knee, hip or ankle pain? Bad back or neck? Joint problems like these can keep us from exercising, limiting our ability to burn calories. Get your aches and pains addressed and get moving again. Shutterstock
Plagued by insomnia? Or just not fitting in enough Z's? You're not alone. The vast majority of Americans is officially sleep-deprived. Studies have shown that sleeping fewer than five or more than nine hours a night can pack on the pounds. Mostly that's because you're more likely to reach for high-calorie snacks and do less exercise. Shutterstock