Understanding the reasons for gaining weight is the first step in weight reduction.

Being overweight is a very common nutrition-related health problem. It is a chronic disease with increasing incidence. It paves way for the development of diseases like those related to our heart, high blood pressure, endocrine diseases like Diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.

Nowadays people are spoilt with extra calorie food and that too in abundance. Added to that, they are leading a sedentary lifestyle. Thus, unwanted weight gain has become a normal issue in today’s age. Excess weight gain won’t come alone. It will bring with it disabilities, diseases, and even death.

The Reasons for Gaining Body Weight

  • Weight gain can result from quantitative changes in either body tissues or body fluids
  • When your calorie intake exceeds calorie expenditure over a period of time, there will be weight gain. This is usually seen as body fat. In simple words, if we eat more than what our body needs, the excess food is converted into fat and gets stored in our body
  • Obesity is the condition where your body weight is 20% more than the ideal weight
  • If the weight gain is over a very short period of time, the culprit is body fluids

Incidence: More than 65% of North American adults suffer from being overweight. Of them, 23% are obese and facing the risk of premature death. Recent studies reveal that women are more obese than males.

Factors contributing to weight gain

  • Endocrine Diseases like Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome, etc.
  • Genetic Factors- Genes play a significant role in body composition. Blood Group Diet is based on this principle. Obesity runs in the family, but we should not forget the fact that parents who are obese due to overeating encourage the same in their kids
  • Exercise- Lack of exercise/physical activity has a very high significance
  • Improper diet habits- Nibbling between meals. Some people like to snack very often. But this can lead to obesity not just by fat accumulation but also preventing food digestion
  • Living Status- Obesity is more prevalent in developed countries.
  • Injury to Hypothalamus- It can result in loss of control on appetite

Leading a proper lifestyle is the key to keeping obesity away. Everyone likes to be in shape and maintain a toned figure.

But understanding the reasons for Obesity is the very first step in weight loss.

Obesity affects a person’s self-esteem. But rarely have I come across people who are fat and happy. Whether a person bothers about her weight or not, being a physician I am bound to educate them regarding the necessity to reduce weight. Obese people are 5 times more prone to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, and stroke.

What Other Factors Influence Weight Gain?

Do you think there can be any relation between allergy and obesity? Yes, there can be a relation between the regular use of antihistamines and obesity. Drugs given for allergy are mainly antihistamine drugs.


Antihistamines are nothing but prescribed drugs that are used in the treatment of allergy. The characteristics of antihistamine are

  • Antihistamines are commonly used as oral medicines
  • The common allergies that are treated with antihistamines are allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis
  • Normally antihistamines are prescribed for people with running nose, sneezing, stuffiness in nose, itching sensation in the nose, eyes, etc.
  • Histamine is a chemical that gets released once there is an allergic reaction. As the name denotes antihistamines work against histamines. They work by blocking the actions of histamine
  • Antihistamines have a chemical structure very similar to psychiatric drugs which are also linked to drugs causing weight gain

How does antihistamine cause weight gain?

  • Antihistamines increase appetite. This way they indirectly lead to weight gain
  • Antihistamines have got a chemical structure similar to that of antidepressant drugs
  • An older Antihistamine drug Periactin was used for increasing appetite and thereby increasing weight gain in underweight children. The same drug is used for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy. Asthma, allergies are mostly seen associated with obesity. Not convincing, right? Nobody ever thought that there can be a relation between antihistamines and obesity. This paved the way for many studies in this field

Research findings to support the theory

One such study was conducted by researchers on 867 Americans. Their vital data were taken along with blood sugar, cholesterol, and insulin levels. Insulin is an endocrine hormone produced from the pancreas for the utilization of glucose in our body. Among 867 people, 268 were antihistamine users. 45% of antihistamines users were found to be overweight and only 30% out of 599 participants who were not using antihistamines were overweight. We follow the body mass index to know a person’s weight scale if he/she is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. The BMI of all the 867 was calculated and the average BMI of antihistamine users was found to be 31. BMI 31 is definitely coming under the obesity group. Thus we have to believe that the use of antihistamine can lead to obesity. I do not state that BMI is accurate. But, it can serve as a yardstick

The journal, Obesity, had published a study in 2010, regarding the use of antihistamines and obesity. The study was conducted in 900 people and they found that those who use antihistamines regularly were overweight regardless of the brand of antihistamines. We know that older antihistamines like Benadryl had some side effects like urinary retention, drowsiness, and dry mouth. The latest varieties like Zyrtec and Allegra do not have those side effects. But can they promise no weight gain? The study showed that those who consume these latest and other side-effect-free medicines cannot escape from the clutches of being overweight. But some antihistamine users report that with the use of Xyzal, they have noted only a very little weight gain

A Different Approach to Understanding the Relation between Obesity and Respiratory Illness

There can be another relation which I myself have observed in my patients. Obese people tend to develop asthma more as compared to lean persons. To explain the reason for that, I have to take the help of Ayurvedic philosophy. According to the system of medicine, there are three kinds of doshas. They are

  • Vatha
  • Pitha
  • Kapha

People’s character, body constitution, and their dreams are based on these doshas. Either one of these doshas or a combination is what makes one different from the other. Usually, obese people are seen to have Kapha dosha. If Kapha dosha is predominant, such people are seen to be more prone to respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma.

Thus a Kapha dosha predominant person will have a greater tendency to be overweight, as they have a low metabolic rate. They are also seen to be more prone to respiratory allergies as compared to others.

In other words, obese people will have a lesser metabolic rate, they will be doing lesser exercise and thus their immunity [resistance power] goes down drastically and they are prone to allergies and infections.