Hello - I find that many patients do struggle with weight issues, regardless of the treatment option that they choose. I have been on methimazole for 4.5 years and have struggled with about 20 extra pounds, despite leading an active lifestyle and carefully tracking my food intake. In fact, I used to lead meetings for Weight Watchers prior to diagnosis, and had to quit last year, because I had such a hard time maintaining my goal weight…which I had previously maintained for 3 years with no problems.
I know that my situation isn’t all that unusual, as we did a poll on our Facebook page about weight issues. At last count, 60% of respondents (out of about 70) said that losing weight after treatment was “extremely difficult”. About 15% said that losing weight was “challenging, but manageable”, and another 15% said that they had noticed no impact after treatment. (The remainder had either regained the weight they lost or said they had difficulty GAINING weight after treatment).
Interestingly, I just got back from working a conference for endocrine surgeons. One of the preliminary studies that was discussed out of University of Wisconsin (I don't believe it's been published yet; I'll post a link if I can find the summary online) looked into weight gain after thyroidectomy. The researchers wanted to see if patients in general tended to gain weight after thyroidectomy. They sliced and diced the data in different ways, including various groupings: (1) type of disease: Hashimoto's thyroditis, thyroid cancer, and Graves' and (2) thyroid status prior to surgery - hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, and euthyroid. It was primarily the Graves' group that gained a noticeable amount of weight – even moreso than the overall hyperthyroid group.
One presenter at our 2011 Boston conference looked at children who were treated for Graves'…many of them *did* have issues with weight gain.
(Note on links: if you click directly on the following links, you will need to use your browser's “back” button to return to the boards after viewing. As an alternative, you can right-click the link and open it in a new tab or new window).http://www.endocrinetoday.com/view.aspx?rid=87077
Also, an attendee at our Boston conference, shared this study from 2008, which was part of the Framingham study, a large study that was initially organized to identify risk factors in cardiovascular disease. These researchers found that participants tended to gain weight as their TSH increased – even if TSH remained within “normal” levels.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18362250
That's not to say that everyone who is treated for Graves' will gain excessive weight. Some Graves' patients in the thyroidectomy study did lose weight after surgery. But personally, I think the limited research shows that there is more at play than just simple “calories in vs. calories out” when it comes to Graves' and weight issues.
Bottom line, it’s important to continue fighting the good fight and make healthy choices, rather than just giving up, which is *certain* to make our weight increase even more. But personally, I take some comfort in the fact that there very may well be a physical reason for what I've experienced – rather than some sort of personal failing on my part.