Unintentional weight loss
Unintentional weight loss is when you lose weight without changing your diet or exercise routine. It can be a sign of stress or a serious illness. See a GP just in case.
Causes of unintentional weight loss
Unintentional weight loss has many different causes.
It might be caused by a stressful event like a divorce, losing a job, or the death of a loved one. It can also be caused by malnutrition, a health condition or a combination of things.
Some causes of unintentional weight loss include:
- mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- problems with digestion, such as coeliac disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- other health conditions, such as an overactive thyroid, type 2 diabetes or heart failure
Sometimes weight loss can be caused by cancer. It's important to get it checked if you're losing weight without trying.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- you keep losing weight without changing your diet or exercise routine
Treatment for unintentional weight loss
Treatment for unintentional weight loss depends on what's causing it.
A GP will ask about your health and may arrange some tests or scans.
Depending on the possible cause, they may:
- advise you about things you can do to help, such as ways to reduce stress
- recommend treatment for any condition that's causing you to lose weight
- refer you to a specialist
Page last reviewed: 16 February 2022
Next review due: 16 February 2025