Sometimes your excess poundage really is due to a medical condition. One of the top culprits is Cushing's syndrome. The rare disease was first described in 1932 by Dr. Harvey Cushing, an American neurosurgeon who helped pioneer brain surgery.
The syndrome named after Cushing is a complex hormonal condition where the body is flooded with far too much cortisol, the body's main stress hormone. This may occur because of a disorder (for instance a tumor in the pituitary gland), or else you've been taking a lot of steroid-based medications (like the ones prescribed for asthma). In normal amounts, cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands, works to regulate your glucose levels and suppress the immune system. But get too much coursing through your system, and you may end up with thin skin, bruises, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, weakness, a puffy face, fat on your neck and shoulders and, yes, weight gain. Indeed, accelerated weight gain is the main characteristic of Cushing's syndrome. If untreated, Cushing's syndrome can lead to death. However, there are several remedies available, from slowly reducing the amount of corticosteroids taken to surgery (in the case of a tumor).
4.Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Another medical condition that could be behind an unexplained weight gain is polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. A hormonal disorder that affects women, PCOS is relatively common among females in their child-bearing years, striking between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women in the U.S. alone.
The disease causes women to develop many small cysts on their ovaries. The cysts, in turn, wreak havoc with their hormones, causing an increase in the male hormone androgen. That hormonal imbalance results in acne, a messed-up menstrual cycle and excess body hair. It also causes women to become resistant to insulin, which regulates blood sugar, and thus may result in them getting fatter. Unfortunately, these extra pounds tend to pile on in the belly area, leaving those affected more susceptible to heart issues. PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility. The condition may be genetic, as women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother and sister with PCOS, too. So if you're a woman whose weight has surged and some of your relatives have PCOS, get checked for it yourself.
Several studies show some pretty strong connections between lack of sleep and weight gain. One such study, the Mayo Clinic reports, showed that women who got less than six hours of sleep (or more than nine) were more likely to pack on a whopping 11 pounds (5 kilograms) than females nodding off for seven hours nightly. Another study on the subject found men who lacked adequate Z's took in more calories each day and preferred high-calorie foods.
So what's sleep got to do with it? One somewhat obvious connection is the longer you're awake, the more time you have to get hungry and eat. Some posit that if you're tired from a lack of sleep, you're less likely to be active and burn calories. Others say the amount of sleep you get each night is tied to the hormones regulating hunger; if you mess them up, your appetite becomes heightened. The easy answer is to simply get a good night's sleep — seven or eight hours — every night. And why not? It sure feels great!
At first glance, you might think just the opposite: Stress will cause you to lose weight. You might have a friend who was stressed from a pending divorce and dropped 20 pounds (9 kilograms), or a sibling anxious about a job loss who suddenly lost his appetite and became too thin. But stress is actually the reason behind a lot of people's weight gains.
First, adrenaline floods our bodies when we're anxious and stressed out, preparing us for battle (adrenaline is known as the "fight-or-flight" hormone). That rush of adrenaline is followed by a cascade of cortisol, known as the "stress hormone." Cortisol tells our bodies to eat, because in early human history, that extra energy from food was necessary for activities like running and physically fighting. Nowadays, our stress might come from not having enough money to pay bills rather than facing a wild animal, yet our bodies are still programmed to store fat when we're anxious. Cortisol is also the culprit behind emotional eating, that mindless shoveling of food down when we're stressed, and behind our craving for "comfort foods" like ice cream and chips when we're feeling low. As for those people who lose weight from stress, it's likely that they've lost interest in eating or are fidgeting a lot from anxiety, which burns calories.
Many an overweight person has claimed that the extra poundage is all due to their genes. There might be something to such an assertion. Researchers studying mice discovered a genetic mutation in the MRAP2 gene that didn't allow them to burn off calories from fat; this same genetic mutation was found in obese humans. Initially, the mice's genetic mutation caused them to eat less than the norm. However, despite the reduced calories, the mice gained about twice the poundage of normal mice. Eventually the mice's appetites returned, and they ate a typical diet — yet still gained more weight than mice without that mutation. Why? The bodies of the mice with the genetic mutation were storing fat, not burning it for fuel. In a study of 500 obese people, scientists found a similar situation with the human version of the MRAP2 gene. Keep in mind, though, that scientists have identified only about eight genetic mutations that cause obesity in humans. And these mutations are considered to cause less than 5 percent of all of the cases of obesity in society.