There’s two ways to think about all those extra pounds an overweight 50 or 55 year old man is carrying around.
In high school physics class you learned about “foot pounds.” In simple terms, if you’re 45 pounds overweight, that’s like stealing one of those big iron plates from the gym – we call ‘em “Cadillacs” – and carrying it around with you 24-7-365. Pretty dumb, huh?
In even more personal terms, if you’re a 55 year old man, you’ve already experienced a fairly significant decrease in your testosterone levels from what they were in your late teens and 20s. It’s called maturing. And, (Here’s the really bad news.) being overweight can lower your test levels even more.
But there’s some good news from The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston in late June: Weight loss can reduce the prevalence of low testosterone levels in overweight, middle-aged men with pre-diabetes by almost 50 percent.
A new study that involved nearly 900 men with impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes) showed that people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes could delay or avoid developing the disease through weight loss. And, because overweight men are more likely to have low testosterone levels, Frances Hayes, MD, professor at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, and her colleagues studied the effect of weight loss on men’s testosterone levels.
Symptoms of low testosterone can include reduced libido (sex drive), poor erections, enlarged breasts and low sperm counts. The researchers eliminated from their study men with a known diagnosis of hypogonadism – a condition characterized by low testosterone levels – and/or men who were taking medications that could interfere with testosterone levels.
Participants (average age 54) were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: lifestyle modification (exercising for 150 minutes a week and eating less fat and fewer calories), the diabetes medication metformin or an inactive placebo.
Research results showed that low testosterone levels are common in overweight men with pre-diabetes, according to Dr. Hayes. At the onset of the study, nearly one in four men had low testosterone levels – below 300 nanograms per deciliter. For lifestyle modification participants, the prevalence of low testosterone levels decreased from about 20 percent to 11 percent in one year – a 46 percent decrease. The prevalence levels of low testosterone were essentially unchanged for the group on medication (24.8 versus 23.8 percent) and the placebo group (25.6 versus 24.6 percent) after one year.
The men in the lifestyle modification group lost an average of about 17 pounds during the course of the year-long study and the increase in testosterone levels in that group correlated with decreasing body weight and waist size. “Losing weight not only reduces the risk of pre-diabetic men progressing to diabetes but also appears to increase their bodies’ production of testosterone,” noted Dr. Hayes.
Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.
Helping overweight individuals is an area in which the Brain Training Centers of Florida can be very helpful. The Centers are open 7 days per week from 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM for the convenience of our customers. For further information call (305) 412-5050.