Can Your gallbladder cause you to gain weight?

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symptoms of gallbladder problemsGallbladder issues are prevalent among obese people. This brings us to the question: Could your gallbladder cause weight gain?

There’s obviously a link between gallbladder and weight issues. However, it’s not exactly correct to put the blame on this tiny bile sac. There’s no scientific basis to the claim that the gallbladder causes you to gain weight.

In fact, it’s more likely that obesity causes gallbladder problems than the other way around.

Let’s look into scientific data confirming that excessive weight increases the risk for gallbladder diseases.

Does obesity increase the risk of developing gallstones?

A study shows that at least 25% of people with BMI greater than 45 (Obese Class IV) have gallstones. Obese children and women with BMI of 35-40 (Obese Class II) face higher risks of forming gallstones than their peers who are not obese.

Another study confirms that high BMI does not only increase the risk for gallstones, but this risk is increased by 7% with every unit increase in BMI. Exactly how obesity causes this is not yet clear. Obese people, though, empty their gallbladder poorly. Stagnant bile has an opportunity to build up and crystallize into gallstones.

Also, obesity is linked with high cholesterol levels which thicken the bile even more.

If you think that being obese is bad enough for your gallbladder, you’re wrong. What you do about that extra weight may even be worse.


What other weight-related activities can increase your risk for gallstones?

does gallbladder removal cause weight gainRapid weight loss

If you’re obese, losing weight should be one of your immediate goals. But not so fast! We mean that literally – don’t lose weight so fast. Rapid weight loss causes the liver to release high levels of cholesterol.

As a consequence, the bile’s cholesterol component will thicken and become harder to dissolve. Studies also show that people who form gallstones due to rapid weight loss will likely develop symptoms.

Weight cycling

Yo-yo weight loss, or significant fluctuations in weight, is another cause for concern. Researchers from University of Kentucky Medical Center studied data from 24,729 men. They found strong evidence that weight cyclers are at risk of developing gallstones.

Heavy weight cyclers are 76% more likely to have gallstones than weight maintainers. Heavy weight cyclers are those who lose (and gain) at least 20 pounds per attempt. Weight maintainers are those who keep their weight within 5 pounds, plus or minus.

An increase in the number of attempts or cycles also increases this risk further.

Fasting and extreme eating programs

The health of your gallbladder depends so much on the regular flow of bile in and out of it. When you eat and ingest fats, the brain signals the release of cholecystokinin (CCK), which causes the contraction of the gallbladder and the relaxation of the sphincter of Oddi. This chain of events releases bile into the intestines.

When you’re on fasting, you don’t ingest enough fats to allow your gallbladder its normal activities. On the other hand, your liver continues to produce bile, which the gallbladder stores, thickens, and rarely releases.

Other identified risks

gallbladder foodsYou should also be particularly concerned if you’re a woman, over 40 years old

heavy around the waist (as opposed to heavy on the hips or thighs), or undergoing hormone replacement therapy.

Aside from obesity, you also have to be aware that what you do about it – and how – is equally important. The best way is to aim for a healthy weight and adhere to it, and to always talk to your doctor about your health concerns.

Exploring other possible connections between weight gain and gallstones, we modify the question above.

can removing it cause weight gain?

Like we said the gallbladder does not cause you to gain weight. Its removal can have certain effects to weight, though.

Removal of the gallbladder does seem to cause weight gain

as some researchers in the Department of Surgery at the Water Regional Hospital, Ireland found out.

A research conducted by Dr. Ali of strongly suggests that removal of the gallbladder may cause gluttony and weight gain eventually.

The same study, however, shows that their weight gain is not the direct result of gallbladder removal. People who suffer from gallstones are normally very careful with the choice and quantity of the food they eat.

When their gallbladder is removed, though, they throw caution in the air and overeat!

Obesity then becomes a natural consequence.


In summary

Could your gallbladder cause you to gain weight? No, our gallbladder, or its absence, does not cause weight gain. To be honest, it’s your lifestyle that will cause you to gain weight, not your gallbladder.

When symptoms of gallbladder problems are observed in an obese person, weight management is the most logical first step. Observe proper diet, do moderate exercise, and make sure to lose weight slowly and steadily. The good news is – what’s good for your gallbladder is also good for you!

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