Can the Gallbladder Prevent You From Losing Weight?

If you can't lose weight despite trying a variety of different diets and approaches, it's reasonable to look for a culprit. Some people hone in on the gallbladder, a small organ that represents an important part of your digestive system, as a potential cause of their weight problems. Although obesity and gallbladder problems do appear to be linked, there's little evidence that your gallbladder actually can prevent you from losing weight.

Gallbladder Basics

Your gallbladder helps you digest the fat in your diet, according to the National Library of Medicine. When you eat a fatty food, such as well-marbled red meat or fried chicken, your gallbladder secretes digestive juices called bile into your small intestines to help break down the food into molecules your intestines can absorb. If your gallbladder doesn't function properly, your body can't absorb as much fat -- which more likely will cause weight loss, not weight gain.

Obesity and Gallbladder Problems

Most gallbladder problems involve gallstones, tiny accumulations of minerals that block the ducts through which your bile should flow. Gallstones, which can be extremely painful, occur more commonly in people considered obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. As your weight rises, your risk for gallstones also rises, but researchers don't know why this occurs. It's possible that high levels of cholesterol present in obese people cause gallstone formation. However, your gallbladder doesn't cause obesity -- it just reacts to the changes in your body due to obesity.


Yo-yo dieting, in which you repeatedly lose weight and then regain it, can cause gallstones, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. If your weight jumps up and down more than 10 lbs. at a time, you're at greater risk for gallstones. Many of these gallstones don't produce symptoms, although some do. Again, you can't blame your gallbladder for your weight fluctuations; researchers, however, continue to study the link between gallbladder problems and weight fluctuations.


Many people lose weight after surgery to remove their gallbladders, in large part because they need to follow a lower-fat diet following the procedure, according to the University of Cincinnati's NetWellness website. If this happens to you, remember that your gallbladder wasn't preventing you from losing weight -- your weight loss stems from dietary changes. If you want to lose weight -- which can help prevent gallstones and other gallbladder problems -- consider reducing the amount of fat in your diet. Consult a dietitian or your doctor if you need help.

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