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Middle Age Spread

Written by: Centre for Men's Health

At the start of every year a great many of us invest a lot of time, money and energy to try and shed a few pounds and live healthier lifestyles. But alongside what we eat, drink and how often we exercise, our hormones also play a part in how much weight we put on. The different male and female sex hormones cause fat mostly to be stored around the breasts, hips and thighs in women before the menopause and around the abdominal organs (under the skin or as deeper, visceral fat) in adult males. However, as men get older, visceral fat increases to a greater extent in men who have low levels of testosterone. Visceral fat is unhealthy and is linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Research by the Centre for Men’s Health (1) indicates 20 per cent of men over the age of 50 across the UK live with low testosterone yet only 1 per cent of men living with testosterone deficiency have been diagnosed and are on the appropriate medication.

The investigators of a study (2), paid for by Bayer Pharma, a manufacturer of testosterone replacement therapy, restored testosterone to normal levels in 255 testosterone-deficient men between the ages of 38 and 83 living with the symptoms of lack of energy, lack of libido, poor concentration, depression, erectile dysfunction, night sweats, weight gain and anxiety. Treatment lasted for up to five years, with injections given at day one, after six weeks and then every 12 weeks after that. Patients did not follow a controlled diet or standard exercise program but received advice to improve their lifestyle habits.

On average, the men weighed 16st 12lb before beginning testosterone treatment and 14st 4lb after treatment (107.0kg versus 90.7kg), the authors reported. Weight loss was reportedly continuous, with an average reduction in body weight ranging from about 4 per cent after one year of treatment to more than 13 per cent after five years. In addition, men lost an average of nearly 3.5in (8.8cm) around their waist.

Commenting on the outcome of study, lead clinician at the Centre for Men’s Health Dr Malcolm Carruthers said, “There is a vicious circle involving obesity and low testosterone. Obesity and in particular abdominal obesity, is associated with reduced testosterone, and low testosterone induces weight gain. We have found in practice that testosterone treatment, alongside other interventions such as diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can have a beneficial impact on weight management for men living with testosterone deficiency”


1: Trinick T.R.,Feneley M.R. Welford H, Carruthers M. The Aging Male 2010 1-6 *International web survey shows high prevalence of symptomatic testosterone deficiency in men. A 10,000 Department of Chemical Pathology The Ulster Hospital Belfast, Institute of Urology & Nephrology University College Hospital Lond

2: Saad F, Gooren LJ. The role of testosterone in the etiology and treatment of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and diabetes mellitus type 2. J Obes 2011:pii:471584.

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