I’m Fat Because of Hypothyroidism

Overweight may be hereditary but can that be changed?

HEALTH Being overweight has medical and social consequences. It is often a precursor to hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. Some people battle weight all of their life. They endure teasing and embarrassment. As a result, some become reclusive. Those who tackle the problem with extreme fitness routines have variable success. Morbidly obese patients may resort to bariatric surgery, gastric bypass (Lap-Band®) surgery and/or liposuction.

Critics say, "Stop eating so much." You may attempt to assuage the disparagement by responding, "I'm big boned" or "It's a glandular problem." But no one listens. Physiologically, weight has little to do with bone size. It could be a glandular problem. If so, which gland? Can it be treated?

Purpose of the Thyroid

The purpose of your thyroid gland is to produce, store, and release thyroid hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones, called T3 and T4, affect almost every cell in your body and help control your body’s metabolism. [1] A healthy thyroid regulates body weight, sleeping patterns, skin and hair, fertility, menstruation, testosterone and cholesterol levels. So an unhealthy thyroid causes problems in these areas. You may find yourself scurrying between dermatologists, rheumatologists, psychotherapists and gynecologists or urologists. When so many factors are simultaneously out of whack, it may signal the need for a blood test to rule out an endocrine problem.

Symptoms of Thyroid Anomalies

Researchers Kumar A, et al., writing in the International Journal of Andrology, says that there is "a direct association between subclinical hypothyroidism and hypoandrogenaemia" (not to be confused with hyper-androgenemia). See sidebar. "Testosterone deficiency and its symptoms should be kept in view while managing subclinical hypothyroidism in male patients." [2-4] Researchers Gould DC et al. noted that symptoms of androgen deficiency (hypoandrogenaemia, hypogonadism, hypotestosteronaemia) may be a common accompanying factor in men with the metabolic syndrome and when androgen deficiency and metabolic syndrome are present together “they may be considered as a specific entity, the hypoandrogen-metabolic (HAM) syndrome.” [5]

Myxedema, or hypothyroidism, is characterized by a diminutive underactive thyroid gland. Externally, there my be apparent puffiness beneath the eyes along with facial corpulence, dry skin, coarse hair and clubbed fingertips. Though some people have no symptoms, increased sensitivity to cold (hyperthermia) [6], constipation, poor concentration, depression, sleepiness and unexplained weight gain may be evident. Conversely, an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) manifests bulging eyes, thin face and swelling neck (goiter). The inclusion of iodine within table salt since 1924 in the U.S. has greatly reduced the incidence of hyperthyroidism. Remember, "hyper-" is fast, and overactive. "Hypo-" is slow and underactive — this relates to being overweight.

Can Hypothyroidism Be Treated?

Hypothyroidism may be a temporary side effect of a medication or the result of a thyroidectomy. When no causative agent can be identified, it is likely congenital. However, adult-onset hypothyroidism is more prevalent with advancing age. [7] There is no cure for hypothyroidism but in nearly all cases it can be treated or controlled.

Normally, physical exercise, regularly scheduled balanced meals and sufficient rest help regulate the metabolism. But when the internal system of regulation is malfunctioning, the best efforts require medical intervention.


A natural hormone called thyroxine, often abbreviated as T4, which synthesizes with triiodothyronine or T3, may be prescribed to regulate the metabolic system. [8] Under many names, desiccated thyroid has been used for over a century. Basically, it's beef and pork thyroid glands that have been dried, powdered and mixed with T3 and T4[9] The accompanying undated images reportedly depict a woman with typical hypothyroidism before and after treatment with desiccated thyroid. [10] In some cases, hormone replacement includes estrogen or testosterone supplements.

Other metabolic disorders may contribute to obesity. See an endocrinologist for proper care. If you need help locating one, are looking for patient support or wish to participate in thyroid clinical trials, you can visit the American Thyroid Association (ATA) website. [11] Physicians, educate patients about the symptoms of hypothyroidism with the poster entitled, "Thyroid Disorders."

Tags: childhood obesity, dietitians, endocrinology, fat kids, illness, obesity, overweight

  1. Your Thyroid Gland. thyrogen.com
  2. Subclinical Hypothyroidism and Testosterone Deficiency. myagemd.com
  3. Hypoandrogenaemia is associated with subclinical hypothyroidism in men. Kumar A, et al. Int J Androl. 2007 Feb;30(1):14-20. ePub 2006 Jul 24.
  4. Androgen Excess and PCOS Society. ae-society.org
  5. Gould DC, Kirby RS, Amoroso P. Hypoandrogen-metabolic syndrome: a potentially common and underdiagnosed condition in men. Gould DC, Kirby RS, Amoroso P. Int J Clin Pract. 2007 Feb;61(2):341-4.
  6. Differential diagnosis of thyroid crisis and malignant hyperthermia in an anesthetized porcine model. Shailesh Kumar MV, et al. Endocr Res. 1999 Feb;25(1):87-103.
  7. Adult-onset hypothyroidism induces the amyloidogenic pathway of amyloid precursor protein processing in the rat hippocampus. Ghenimi N, et al. J Neuroendocrinol. 2010 Aug;22(8):951-9. ePub 2010 Apr 9.
  8. Thyroxine. wikipedia.org
  9. Desiccated thyroid extract. wikipedia.org
  10. About Hypothyroidism. jcrows.com
  11. American Thyroid Association. thyroid.org
  12. Hyperandrogenism. wikipedia.org