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Losing Weight

Your body’s weight may be an indicator of health problems. Losing weight may not always be a good sign. Changes in weight such as weight loss or weight gain may be a symptom of a condition that may require proper examination and treatment.

Ordinarily, you may lose weight due to simple reasons like fasting, dieting, increase in physical activity, dental difficulties or athletic training. Other reasons you may be losing weight include:
  • Eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa and bulimia
  • Depression
  • Drug abuse and smoking 
  • Malnutrition
  • Certain psychiatric disorders 
  • Alcoholism
  • Use of some prescription drugs like amphetamines which suppress the appetite and lead to weight loss
  • Digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcer, chronic diarrhea and parasite infestation.
  • Unexplained weight loss may also be a result of the following medical conditions:
  • Chronic infections like emphysema, pelvic inflammatory disease, AIDS, HIV and tuberculosis
  • Certain kidney and liver disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism which increases the body’s metabolic rate
  • Certain cancers

The problem with unintentional weight loss

Weighing ScalesUnintentional weight loss may lead to poor health as your body may not only be suffering from an underlying medical condition but it may also be deprived of nutrients that it needs to function well. Excessive weight loss may lead to starvation. Starvation initially affects body fat. If uncorrected, starvation gradually causes loss of muscle tissue or a condition called “wasting”. Muscle tissue is important because it is where most metabolic functions occur, such as immune tissue, organ tissue, tissues that produce energy and support movement and other bodily functions.


Proper treatment of unintentional weight loss requires a clear identification of its underlying cause.


While treatment options may vary depending on the cause of the weight loss, a healthy diet is common to all causes in order to stop weight loss, regain lost weight and muscle tissue. As a first line of treatment for unintentional weight loss, your diet may include foods that have adequate calories, protein and micronutrients.
If consuming a large meal is too much for you to handle in one sitting, try consuming 6 smaller meals during the day. Incorporate healthy foods that contain enough calories and are rich in protein such as:

  • a tuna sandwich
  • peanut butter on crackers 
  • yoghurt
  • a bowl of cereal
  • low fat cheese and crackers
  • yoghurt shakes with wheat germ

A dietitian or nutritionist can suggest creative ways of adding enough calories and protein in your diet and devise a meal plan to meet your individual needs.
Causes of weight loss like fasting and excessive exercise may be corrected by making dietary improvements such as consuming a balanced diet and lifestyle changes such as getting moderate exercise.
Weight loss due to dental problems may require treatment by a dentist. Weight loss that is caused by disease may require proper investigation, examination, testing and treatment by a health professional. You may be asked to undergo several tests for nutritional assessment and blood tests to determine your chemistry profile. An evaluation of your test results will become the basis of your treatment plan. On the other hand, psychotherapy or psychological counselling may be combined with nutritional counselling for those who are losing weight as a result of a psychiatric or anxiety disorder.


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