1. Diabetes meds
"Because they impact on your hormones, insulin and sulphonylureas can both lead to weight gain," says nurse practitioner Giuliana Murfet. The best way to control this type of weight gain is to go back to basics with diet and exercise. "Eat lean protein, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit, and low-fat dairy foods," says Aloysa Hourigan, dietitian at Nutrition Australia.
These foods will help fill you up, meaning you’ll be less tempted to reach for the biscuit jar out of hunger. "Minimise your intake of salt, sugar and saturated fat, as well as takeaways and processed foods," she advises.
And make the most of moving, as all kinds of exercise – whether it’s gardening, playing golf or taking the dog for a walk – can help stabilise your blood glucose levels, meaning that you may even be able to reduce the amount of medication that you’re taking.
"Oral steroids – which are used to treat conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis – can cause weight gain by increasing appetite," says pharmacist Dr John Bell. Look out for fat deposits around your stomach, face and the back of your neck – these are tell-tale signs of steroid-related weight gain.
If you’re taking corticosteroids for asthma, ward off dust mites (which can trigger asthma attacks) by regularly washing your sheets, dusting surfaces (with a damp cloth and mask to reduce dust inhalation), sweeping the floors and vacuuming. "Make sure you also address areas of mould, as spores can become airborne and worsen asthma symptoms," says GP Dr Brian Morton.
Some people’s asthma intensifies when they’re exposed to food chemicals, like sulphites (preservatives 220-228), tartrazine (a yellow dye), MSG, benzoates and salicylates. Try eliminating them for several months, then reintroduce them individually to see if they cause your asthma to flare up.
Many people who take Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants report weight gain. And, according to research, this increase explains why people taking SSRIs are at higher risk of developing type 2.
To find the balance between managing your depression and waistline, speak to your GP about taking a shorter course of SSRIs or tapering down to a lower dose. Getting into a regular eating pattern can also help. "Ensuring your blood glucose levels don’t drop can help to stabilise your mood and promote feelings of calm," says Dr Morton. Exercise also boosts your mood, so aim for 30 minutes each day.
4. Headache tablets
Certain headache tablets like ibuprofen can cause weight gain and stimulate hunger hormones that increase your appetite. Dr Morton suggests keeping a diary to identify food and lifestyle triggers that may contribute to migraines.
Drinking chamomile tea can relieve muscle spasms that are characteristic of migraines, and boosting your folate intake – think leafy greens – may also help.
5. Beta blockers
Taken to manage high blood pressure, beta-blockers can reduce your ability to burn kilojoules. They can also slow your heart rate which, in turn, depletes your energy levels. The first step is to reduce your salt intake. "High-salt diets increase blood pressure, forcing your heart to work harder," says Dr Morton.
Also, try slowing your breathing to 10 breaths per minute. Doing this for 15 minutes each day can help lower blood pressure, according to research, which may reduce your need for medication.