Birth control pills not connected to weight gain, study finds

Feb 07, 2011

Contrary to popular belief, oral contraceptives are not connected to weight gain, according to a recent study.

Though it is popularly believed that birth control pills can contribute to obesity, a recent study has proved otherwise, according to the Oregon Health and Science University.

Researchers have used rhesus macaque monkeys to study the effects of oral contraceptives. They say they chose this type of monkey because they have reproductive systems that are nearly identical to those of humans, but they are easier to measure for variables such as weight, food intake, activity levels, body fat and lean muscle mass, which were taken throughout the study.

The group of monkeys were half obese and half normal weight. Researchers say they prescribed dosages of the oral contraceptives based on weight, as they would have in humans.

At the end of the study, the normal weight monkeys remained stable, whereas the overweight monkeys saw an 8.5 percent decrease in their weight and a 12 percent decrease in body fat, which may have been caused by an increased metabolic rate, according to OHSU.

The source of this myth, according to senior researcher Dr. Judy Cameron, may be that "the weight gain that seems to occur with age is being attributed to these medications."

Obesity remains a national health concern and has been linked to harmful diseases that may make it difficult to obtain affordable health and life insurance coverage.  

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