What Could Be the Reasons for Unintentional Weight Loss?

Organic Lifestyle

There is so much focus on overweight and obesity that problems associated with underweight or weight are almost invisible to most. There may be several reasons for unintentional/unexplained weight loss in people. The reasons may be medical or non-medical. Under weight is a term applied to people who are 15 to 20 % or more below ideal weight.

Under weight is usually associated with some medical issue. It is very important to find out the underlying cause and get proper medical attention.


Reasons for unintentional weight Loss (1,2)



There could be loss of appetite because of cancer especially gastrointestinal cancers. Certain treatments and medicines used can also cause loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. All these may lead to weight loss

Celiac disease

It is also called celiac sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy which triggers an immune reaction in small intestine after eating gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  This reaction damages the small intestine’s lining and causes malabsorption of nutrients. The intestinal impairment may cause diarrhoea and weight loss. Make sure that gluten is removed from the diet.


One of the symptoms of diabetes is unexplained weight loss. Once the condition is diagnosed appropriate treatment is given. Upon taking proper medication, following diabetic friendly diet and leading a healthy lifestyle the situation can be controlled.


This is condition occurs when there is an overactive thyroid producing higher levels of thyroxine hormone. This results in accelerated metabolism and weight loss. Medical treatment is necessary to overcome this problem.

Inflammatory bowel disorder or Crohn’s disease  

Inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD) affects the large intestine and unless the condition becomes severe symptoms are not seen. Diarrhoea and loss of appetite are commonly seen in people affected by IBD. In severe cases of IBD weight loss may be seen.

Depression and anxiety

Because of depression and anxiety there may be loss of appetite which may lead to weight loss. Depression and anxiety should not be ignored and proper medical attention should be sort.


It is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria and it affects lungs. It spreads through droplets released while coughing or sneezing. One of the symptoms of tuberculosis is loss of appetite which results in unintentional weight loss.

Intestinal ischemia

It is a serious condition in which the blood supply to small or large intestine is affected because of blocked blood vessels. If proper medical care is not given it may lead to unintentional weight loss.

Dental issues

Putting braces on teeth or other dental issues may result in difficulty in eating which may result in weight loss.

Changes in appetite, diet, taste and smell may also result in unintentional weight loss. Sometimes lowered physical activity levels also lead to decrease in appetite and in turn weight loss. Pay attention to these changes and correct the reason for these changes.

A body mass index less than 18.5 is associated with higher mortality risk. Therefore, it is extremely important to get medical treatment for the issue which is causing unintentional or unexplained weight loss.

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2018) Unexplained weight loss. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/unexplained-weight-loss/basics/causes/sym-20050700
  2. Mahan, L. K. and Escott-Stump, S. (2008) Krause’s Food and Nutrition Therapy, Nutrition for Health and Fitness 532. Elsevier Saunders Publishers. 12th Edition, edited by L. Kathleen Mahan and Sylvia Escott-Stump.


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