Obesity is usually the result of overeating, but in a small percentage of people excess weight gain is a symptom of another disease.
Medical causes of obesity can include:
- Hypothyroidism. This is a condition where the thyroid gland, located in the neck, produces too little thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone regulates our metabolism. So too little hormone slows the metabolism and often causes weight gain. If your doctor suspects thyroid disease as a cause of your obesity, they may perform blood tests to check your hormone levels.
- Cushing's syndrome. This condition results when the adrenal glands (located on top of each kidney) produce an excess amount of a steroid hormone called cortisol. This leads to a build-up of fat in characteristic sites such as the face, upper back, and abdomen.
- Depression. Some people with depression overeat, which can lead to obesity.
There are also certain inherited conditions and other diseases of the brain that can cause excess weight gain.
A doctor can determine if any of these conditions or treatments are responsible for your obesity.