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Obesity and Weight Management

Rapid weight gain from steriod injections

12/06/2006

Question:

I have gained 62 pounds in 7 months. I cannot believe how fat I have gotten in such a short period of time. I am miserable and feel tired all the time. I was getting steriod shots for my back due to an accident I had last year. I was getting shots every three weeks between March and July. Now, I don`t recognize myself in the mirror anymore. How did this happen so fast? What can I do to reverse this effect? I have tried Jenny Craig but cannot afford the $100 per week for the food. I have tried Overeaters Anonymous but get bored with the diet plans. I have been to the doctor and she tested my thyroid and everything is fine.

However, I feel terrible. I mean really really terrible. I can`t stand it anymore. I can`t believe I gained so much weight. I was 188 lbs 1 year ago today. Now, I am 250 lbs today. I am only 41 years old. I have not even had my children yet!!! What can I do? I have looked into the gastric banding but that costs $15,000 and is not covered by insurance. Help me, please.

Answer:

Your doctor can help you figure out if your weight gain is because of the steroids. Steroids can cause weight gain, especially when used in doses that exceed what the body normally produces. Unfortunately, for some health conditions steroids are very effective therapy and can not be easily discontinued. Weight gain from steroids is primarily due to an increase in appetite. To counteract this effect, you need to be proactive with your diet and physical activity behaviors.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Keep a food diary to help you monitor where your extra calories are coming from.

2. Plan and eat 3 regular meals and at least 2 snacks per day to avoid constant grazing. For any temptations to reach for unplanned snacks, try to have the foods not easily available and refocus on another thought or activity. Remember to increase the fiber, fruit, and vegetable intake in each of these meals and snacks. Avoid empty calories like soda.

3. You need at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity daily- remember lifestyle activities like walking, gardening, etc. all count.

4. Talk to your doctor about whether there are other treatment options for your back problem.

Finally, I suggest you take a deep breath, remind yourself of all positive things you have, and take it one day at a time.

Good luck.

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Response by:

Ihuoma U Eneli, MD Ihuoma U Eneli, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University