Obesity: Taking Prednisone Once a Week Could Help with Weight Loss

Obesity increases the risk of many health problems like hypertension, diabetes, liver diseases, arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases. It is also a component of metabolic syndrome which is made up of hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and abdominal obesity. Some drugs have also been noted to have obesity as their side effect, like some antidepressants, steroids like prednisone, and antipsychotics.

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Read Also: Obesity Is Not Just a Matter of Willpower as Some People Are Genetically Predisposed to It

Obesity is a disorder involving excessive body fat accumulation. It was once considered a disorder common in high-income countries. But now, even middle-income and low-income countries are experiencing an increase too. Obesity can be calculated using body mass index (BMI). A BMI of thirty and above signifies obesity.

Various lifestyle modifications have been recommended for obesity reduction. They include low-fat diets, aerobic exercises, and consumption of dietary fiber among others. These modifications require discipline which is difficult for some persons. Hence, the need for further options for obesity reduction. In addition to the already existing drugs for obesity reduction which work by decreasing appetite, increasing feelings of fullness, and interfering with fat absorption among others. Trials are still ongoing to produce more drugs that will help in weight loss and obesity reduction.

The prednisone trial

One of the drug trials for weight loss is the prednisone trial. The daily dosing of prednisone was noted to cause obesity, and also, metabolic syndrome. However, the reverse was observed in a weekly mice dosing of the drug. A study done by Northwestern University’s medical school noted increased lean body mass, weight loss, increased muscle metabolism, improved exercise endurance, and greater strength among obese mice after receiving prednisone on a once-weekly basis. The obesity was induced by feeding the mice a high-fat diet.

Read Also: University of Virginia Researchers Identify 14 Genes That Cause Obesity and 3 That Prevent It

The prednisone aided nutrient uptake into the muscles of the mice and lowered blood glucose. Increased levels of the hormone, adiponectin, were also noted. This hormone helps in the prevention of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Appropriate timing was necessary for the effectiveness of the drug. The drug was noted to work in mice better when their day was just starting. They usually sleep during the day and are more active at night.

Additional benefits

Prednisone is also observed to improve strength in muscular dystrophy. It also improved lean body mass in patients suffering from muscular dystrophy when given on an intermittent basis.

The challenge

Despite the good outcome in mice, there is yet no human study to show the effectiveness of prednisone in the reduction of obesity. The adequate dosing, as well as the appropriate time of administration, need to be known. In humans, cortisol and steroid levels are usually higher early in the morning, and the circadian rhythm is opposite of that seen in mice.

Read Also: Reinstating the Biological Clock to a Healthier State Could Help Treat Obesity

Clinical significance

Obesity is a disorder that is increasing in incidence as people become more prone to sedentary lifestyles and reduced exercise. The attendant health problems associated with obesity are multisystemic, hence the need to reduce obesity.

If more drugs are produced, there can be a reduction in obesity and its complications. Thus, this study is a step among others, to profer solution.


Increased muscular nutrient uptake, exercise tolerance and increased lean body mass are some of the effects of prednisone on obese mice. This result is promising for improved quality of life and reduction in obesity incidence in humans.


Intermittent prednisone treatment in mice promotes exercise tolerance in obesity through adiponectin



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