Facebook Pixel

13 Surprising Causes of Weight Gain

By HERWriter
Rate This
13 Causes of Weight Gain That Might  Surprise You MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

If you feel like you are losing the battle of the bulge, check to see if one or more of these issues may be helping you pick up pounds you don’t want, or hold on to pounds you’d like to lose. You may be surprised by what you discover.

1) Lack of Sleep

Whether you are just staying up too late, working odd hours, or have a condition that affects your sleep such as sleep apnea, being short on sleep may contribute to your gaining weight. Staying up late may lead to late-night snacking. Being short on sleep can also affect hormone levels that make you feel hungrier.

2) Stress

High stress also affects hormone levels which can lead to feeling hungrier. If you are like many of us, you may reach for comfort foods when you feel stressed, which can also lead to gaining unwanted pounds.

3) Working too much

If you are a workaholic, chances are good that you are more stressed and less active than you might be, especially if your long hours at work are spent sitting in an office or at a computer.

4) Low-fat foods

Despite advertising claims, foods that are labelled “low fat” may actually be less healthy than their regular-fat counterparts. Low-fat foods often contain as many calories as the regular items.

Some low-fat foods also contain added sugar to balance the flavor lost when fat was removed. Be sure to read the labels and look at the calories and sugar or carb counts in addition to the fat content.

5) Eating too little

Balancing your weight requires balancing your food intake. Not eating enough or skipping meals can slow your metabolism and cause your body to store energy, which can result in weight gain.

Skipping meals may also mean eating more at the next meal because you are too hungry. Plan to eat healthy food and space your meals out throughout the day.

6) Eating too fast

If you gobble your food, you stand a good chance of overeating. That’s because it takes time for your brain to recognize that you are full and signal your body to stop eating. Slow down and enjoy your food to keep from packing on extra pounds.

7) Food allergies

Even a mild food allergy can cause food cravings that will make you want to eat more. Sensitivity to certain foods can also lead to water retention, which can cause temporary weight gain.

8) Water retention

If you are a woman, you know your monthly cycle may include gaining water weight. But other serious conditions can also cause you to retain water, including heart problems, kidney disease and liver problems. If you notice that you retain water unconnected with your period, talk to you health care provider.

9) Medications

Many prescription drugs can have the unwanted side effect of weight gain. Even so, never stop taking a prescribed medication without first discussing it with your health care provider.

Medications that may be contributing to your unwanted weight gain include steroids, antidepressants, diabetes drugs, migraine headache medicines and medications to treat seizures, heartburn and diabetes. If you suspect a prescribed medication is affecting your weight talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.

10) Medical conditions

Many diseases and common illnesses can contribute to weight gain including thyroid issues, Cushing’s syndrome, ovarian cysts, tumors, fibromyalgia and even the common cold.

11) Unhelpful family and friends

The people closest to you may unknowingly be hindering your efforts to lose weight by setting a bad example of how much to eat. Be aware of your own portions and don’t eat more than you need just because someone at the table had seconds.

And don’t let guilt motivate you to eat something you shouldn’t, like your mom’s famous casserole or grandma’s homemade cookies. Don’t let fear of being rude compel you to finish eating anything after you are full.

12) Relationships

Settling into a new relationship may also mean settling into new patterns of eating or overeating. If you find that you are not as concerned about what you eat now that your relationship is comfortable, ask your partner to help you eat better.

13) Too much TV

Sitting in front of the television doesn’t burn many calories, and since TV time is often snack time you may be adding extra calories while you are also being less active.

If you have questions about your weight or need help finding a weight control program that will work for you, talk to your health care provider.


Nursing Degree Guide. 50 Surprising Causes of Weight Gain. Web. December 16, 2014.

WebMD. Surprising Reasons You’re Gaining Weight. Web. December 16, 2014.

NHS England. Hidden causes of weight gain. Web. December 16, 2014.

About Health: Alternative Medicine. Surprising Causes of Weight Gain. Cathy Wong, ND. Web. December 16, 2014.

Reviewed December 16, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Weight Loss

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!