Written by: Kate Higham
Obesity currently affects 4 out of 10 Americans  with 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men predicted to be battling obesity by 2030 . These alarming figures highlight the challenge ahead and call for a collective effort to address weight management. Managing our weight goes far beyond fitting into our favorite jeans or reducing the numbers on the scale. It’s a crucial aspect of our overall health and well-being.
Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and certain cancers. Numerous factors influence the digits we see on the scale, from our genetic makeup and age to dietary habits and physical activity levels.
The impact of hormones on weight
The main cause of obesity is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Key drivers of this include an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars and a decrease in physical activity .
Some medical conditions related to hormones such as hypothyroidism and PCOS can also impact weight. Our hormones act as powerful messengers within our bodies, communicating vital instructions to our cells, tissues, and organs. This network of hormones serves as our internal communication system, ensuring all key functions in our body work in harmony. Unfortunately, when hormonal imbalances occur, this delicate equilibrium can be disrupted, leading to challenges in weight management. These imbalances can give rise to a range of issues, including:
Astonishingly, approximately 20 million people in the US suffer from thyroid dysfunction, with a staggering 60% unaware of their condition . When the thyroid gland functions inefficiently, for example in the case of an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism, this can be associated with a decreased metabolism and an increase in weight. However as well as a decrease in metabolism, a key drive of weight gain associated with hypothyroidism is thought to be due to excess accumulation of salt and water .
Insulin resistance is a complex condition in which your body does not respond as it should to insulin, a hormone that’s essential for regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity and can lead to conditions such as prediabetes and diabetes. In the United States alone, about 88 million adults experience insulin resistance .
Ghrelin and leptin are two of many hormones that control your appetite and fullness. Leptin, known as the “satiety hormone” tells our brain that we’re full after a meal. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is the “hunger hormone” that stimulates our appetite. Levels of ghrelin are usually lower in people who are obese and may be increased in those who restrict their caloric intake. This suggests ghrelin is not a cause of obesity, although there is a suggestion that people who are obese may be more sensitive to the hormone. However, more research is needed to confirm this .
Tips to keep your hormones in check
Understanding the impact of hormonal imbalances on weight management can empower us to take proactive action to regain control of our health. Here are some tips to help address optimize weight management:
Adopt a balanced diet: A diet rich in whole foods, lean proteins, healthy fats, and fiber can contribute to better weight management.
Prioritize regular exercise: Adults should aim for at least 150– 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week .
Get adequate sleep: The Sleep Foundation recommends at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night .
Practice stress management: Try stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or any calming hobbies you enjoy to keep your stress levels under control.
Consult a healthcare professional:
Consult a healthcare professional to assist with weight management and the diagnosis and management of any underlying conditions. Let them know if you are experiencing any symptoms or if you have any concerns.
The importance of hormone testing
LetsGetChecked offers a convenient and comprehensive hormone testing service allowing you to assess various hormone levels from the comfort of your home. Choose from:
Thyroid Test: This test evaluates key thyroid hormones, helping identify any potential imbalances that may influence many factors including your metabolism and weight.
Diabetes Test: This test can provide insights about your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months. This test is used to screen for prediabetes and diabetes and helps those with diabetes manage their condition. Diabetes occurs when your body doesn’t make or use the hormone insulin properly.
Male and Female Hormone Tests: LetsGetChecked also offers convenient options to test a wide range of hormones.
Regular health check-ups and hormone testing can provide valuable insights into our hormonal profiles. Armed with this information, you can work with your healthcare provider to create personalized strategies to balance hormones and improve your overall well-being.
Weight management is a multifaceted, complex journey, and understanding the link between diet, physical activity, hormonal function, underlying medical conditions, and weight plays a crucial role in achieving long-term success.
By understanding the roles of key hormones and associated conditions you can make informed decisions to support your weight management goals. LetsGetChecked’s testing provides a valuable resource for assessing your health and tailoring your approach to achieve a healthier, more balanced you.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Adult Obesity Facts.
- World Obesity. World Obesity Atlas 2022.
- American Thyroid Associaton: Impact of Thyroid Disease.
- https://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-and-weight/#:~:text=Most of the extra weight,the severity of the hypothyroidism.
- NCBI: Current Trends with Type 2 Diabetes.
- World Health Organisation: Physical Activity.
- Sleep Foundation: How much sleep do we really need?