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Diseases That Cause Slow Metabolism

By Martin Hughes ; Updated July 18, 2017

Numerous diseases can affect a person's metabolism. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health or NIH, metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in a person's body to derive energy from ingested food. Metabolism is an ongoing process that starts at conception and ends at death. Sometimes, diseases can affect the rate of a person's metabolism, causing metabolic processes to occur quicker or slower than usual.


Hypothyroidism is a disease that can slow metabolism. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases or NIDDK--a division of the National Institutes of Health--hypothyroidism occurs when a person's thyroid gland fails to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone to satisfy the body's demands, and without sufficient thyroid hormone, a person's metabolism will slow. The NIDDK states that approximately 5 percent of Americans have hypothyroidism, and that women are more susceptible to hypothyroidism than men. Hypothyroidism is caused by numerous factors, including Hashimoto's disease, thyroiditis, surgical removal of all or part of a person's thyroid gland, thyroid radiation treatments and certain medications. Common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include the following: fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, thin hair and depression.

Prader-Willi Syndrome

Prader-Willi syndrome is a disease that can slow metabolism. The Prader-Willi Syndrome Association or PWSA--an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of families affected by Prader-Willi syndrome--states that Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare genetic disease that causes life-threatening obesity in children, and that Prader-Willi syndrome is caused by seven deleted or unexpressed genes on chromosome 15. According to the PWSA, Prader-Willi syndrome affects males and females equally, and is seen across all cultures. Common signs and symptoms associated with Prader-Willi syndrome include decreased muscle tone, short stature, delayed puberty and incomplete sexual development, hyperphagia or overeating and a slow metabolism. The PWSA states that hyperphagia combined with a slow metabolism can lead to life-threatening obesity in children with Prader-Willi syndrome.


Diabetes is a disease that can slow metabolism. According to the Nemours Foundation--a non-profit organization based in Jacksonville, Florida, dedicated to improving children's health--Type 2 diabetes affects a person's metabolism and can lead to obesity. A person with Type 2 diabetes often has elevated insulin levels in her bloodstream, as her cells are no longer sensitive to insulin's effect, and elevated insulin levels increase fat storage while inhibiting fat metabolism. The Nemours Foundation states that most Type 2 diabetics are overweight due to the cells' insensitivity to insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and is more common in the following populations: African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and the elderly. Type 2 diabetics may be able to boost their metabolism by engaging in regular physical activity, especially aerobic activity.

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