Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don’t know about us may surprise you. Discover all the ‘Real Possibilities’

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Safe Driving in 2014 Sweepstakes

Learn how AARP Driver Safety can help you stay safe—and enter for a chance to win $1,000. See official rules. 

Download the ipad App

AARP-iPad-ePub-app

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning Centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.


Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Are Your Meds Making You Fat?

Some widely used drugs can trigger weight gain

There's no way to know in advance whether someone will gain weight on a certain drug, or whether a slightly different compound will have a different effect on the waistline — or rather on the brain and appetite centers that contribute to that waistline. In fact, a drug that makes one person pile on pounds could suppress the appetite in another patient.

A drug that makes one person pile on pounds could suppress the appetite in another patient.

While taking antidepressants known as SSRIs, for example, which include drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft, some people gain weight, some lose it and others see no change, says Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Diabetes drugs also can make people gain, which Duke diabetes expert Lien notes is ironic because obesity is associated with diabetes in the first place.

Of course, a drug may not be the only reason for weight gain. The stress and pain of being ill can make people eat more and exercise less. Cheskin says it's important to look at the whole picture — diet, drugs, exercise, lifestyle.

If you gain five pounds, that added weight may or may not be related to the medicine you're taking, Cheskin says.

None of this means that patients can't or shouldn't take drugs in these categories. But it does mean they need to discuss weight issues with their physicians, and educate themselves, too, about side effects, says Harvard's Blackburn. That's particularly important for people who are already overweight, or who have had ups and downs with their weight in the past.

Usually, the physician will be able to find another drug that works without adding pounds. For instance, Lien says metformin (also known as Glucophage) is often preferred for diabetics and it doesn't carry the same risk of added weight as insulin and several other diabetes drugs.

Blackburn says men and women with depression may want to try Wellbutrin, Zyban or Serzone, which aren't associated with weight gain.

A patient getting plump on a beta-blocker might do better with an ACE inhibitor.

Next: If you can't switch drugs, you can still lessen weight gain. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Woman trying on glasses in optometrists shop

Members save up to 60% off eye exams and 30% off eyeglasses at Pearle Vision.

Prescription medication spilling out of bottle

Members get a free Rx card from AARP® Prescription Discounts provided by Catamaran.

AARP/Walgreens Wellness Bus Stops in Clarksdale, MS

Members can get exclusive points offers from Walgreens and Duane Reade.

Caregiving walking

Caregiving can be a lonely journey, but AARP offers resources that can help.