How medications impact the number on the scale

How medications impact the number on the scale

When you start taking a new medication, it’s important to be in tune with your body in case there are any side effects, including a higher number on the scale.

Weight gain is a common side effect for a range of medications, such as drugs to treat anxiety or depression, antihistamines, or insulin. This can be a frustrating balance since maintaining a healthy body weight can help prevent or manage diseases. On the other hand, chronic diseases can be why you need to take certain medications in the first place.

Before taking a new medication, you should chat with your provider or pharmacist about possible side effects. If weight gain is a potential side effect, ask if there is anything you can do to minimize the effect.

“If you begin gaining weight after taking a medication, and it bothers you, be sure to let your provider know. They might be able to adjust the medication or find another treatment option,” says Dr. Jennette Berry, a family medicine physician at Advocate Health Care.

Sometimes there might be a medication that treats the same symptoms but doesn’t cause weight gain. For example, nasal steroid sprays could provide allergy relief without the side effect, unlike antihistamines.

Some medications have the side effect of an increased appetite, which is a common reason people experience weight gain. Other medications, like corticosteroids, are recommended to be taken with food which can increase your calorie intake. “You could time taking medications around regular mealtimes. If that’s not possible, then pair your medication with a healthy snack, like fruit or yogurt,” says Dr. Berry.

Insulin, which helps manage diabetes, could lead to weight gain. That’s because after sugar is absorbed from the bloodstream and pushed into cells, any remaining sugar will be converted into fat if it’s not burned off with regular exercise.

“If insulin is part of your diabetes management plan, you’ll want to avoid overeating unhealthy foods and be sure to regularly exercise to help prevent weight gain,” says Dr. Berry.

No matter what medication you’re taking, Dr. Berry stresses it’s important not to abruptly stop taking the medication as a way of preventing further weight gain.

“Instead, contact your provider to discuss your options and develop a new plan to meet your health needs,” Dr. Berry adds.

Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a free online quiz to find your healthy weight range. 

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

Vicki Martinka Petersen
Vicki Martinka Petersen

Vicki Martinka Petersen, health enews contributor, is a digital copywriter on the content team at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. A former newspaper reporter, she’s worked in health care communications for the last decade. In her spare time, Vicki enjoys tackling her to be read pile, trying new recipes, meditating, and planning fun activities to do in the Chicago area with her husband and son.