The Reality of Obesity and Low Testosterone


It’s no secret that overweight individuals and obesity are big problems in the United States. At present, two-thirds of all Americans need to lose weight, and the number of overweight children and adults is growing at an alarming rate.

And it’s no secret that obesity is bad for health. Excess body fat raises levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides while also lowering HDL ("good”) cholesterol levels. Obesity impairs the body’s responsiveness to insulin, raising blood sugar and insulin levels. But obesity does more than produce bad numbers: it also leads to bad health, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, gallstones, cancer, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver, and depression. All in all, obesity is a killer; in fact, obesity and lack of exercise are responsible for about 1,000 American deaths each day, and if present trends continue, they will soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable causes of death in the U.S.

Obesity affects men and women about equally. But you may be surprised to learn that men bear a particular burden since obesity takes a special toll on male hormones, sexuality, and prostate health.

Earlier research has shown that obesity and low testosterone levels are linked, but could managing testosterone provide a quick fix for obesity?

A Look at Low Testosterone

Testosterone is the major male hormone. As such, it’s responsible for the deep voice, large muscles, and strong bones that characterize our gender, for development of the male reproductive organs, for sperm production and libido, and for the typical male pattern of beard growth. After being converted to dihydrotestosterone, the hormone also spurs growth of the prostate, which is a much less welcome sign of manhood for older gents.

Testosterone levels surge at puberty and peak in early adulthood, and then after a few years of stability, the hormone begins a slow drift downward in early middle age. Because the drop in testosterone averages just 1% a year, most older men retain normal levels. But anything that accelerates the decline can nudge some men into testosterone deficiency.

In the U.S., reports show that 2 to 4 million men suffer from a condition known as hypogonadism or low testosterone.  And while the condition is becoming better known and understood, very few men are getting the help they need. There are many testosterone products and treatments available including prescriptions and testosterone replacement therapy.

Symptoms and Risk Factors of Low Testosterone

Because the symptoms of hypogonadism are similar to ordinary signs of aging, they are often overlooked or ignored. 

Here are some common symptoms men might experience when suffering from below-normal testosterone levels:

  • Low interest or desire for sex
  • Small or soft testicles
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced bone density

There are also certain medical conditions that increase the odds of having low testosterone. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes (Men age 45 and older with diabetes are twice as likely to have low testosterone.)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Asthma/Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • HIV

In some cases, men with low testosterone may not experience any symptoms at all.  The best way to learn more about your testosterone levels is through a blood test.

Middle Aged Man doing push-ups

A Study on the Correlation Between Low Testosterone and Obesity

In a recent study of older, overweight or obese males with low testosterone, regulating their levels of the hormone was tied to significant weight loss.

The research, led by Farid Saad, MD, from Bayer Pharma AG in Berlin followed 251 men with an average age of 61. The subjects were given injections of testosterone after six weeks of observation, then regular injections every 12 weeks for at least two years.

The average weight of the subjects dropped from 234 pounds to 198 pounds, a 36-pound loss, and average waist measurements decreased from 42 inches to 38.5 inches. Furthermore, average body-mass index (BMI) fell from 34 (in the obese range) to 29 (in the overweight range). The researchers also found improvements in blood pressure and blood glucose control among the test subjects. LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) dropped from 163 to 109, and blood glucose measurements decreased from 103 to 94, on average.

The authors suspect that this connection between regulated testosterone levels and weight loss could be due to a number of factors. They propose that testosterone increases lean body mass, so perhaps the energy being utilized by the subjects was increased. Testosterone has been known to boost the urge to exercise, also potentially affecting subjects’ weight loss.

In an interview with dailyrx, Deborah Gordon, MD, and homeopath, preached caution when looking at these results.

“While it is known that obesity is associated with reduced testosterone, it is also true that obesity raises estrogen levels, even in men, which can also contribute to obesity. It has not been previously well documented whether testosterone alone can mitigate the estrogen effect,” said Dr. Gordon.

However, Dr. Gordon did affirm the benefits of testosterone regulation, saying, “It has been my clinical experience - where I use bio-identical hormone treatment topically - that testosterone-deficient men greatly appreciate a boost back to normal levels. Not only the parameters mentioned in this study, but general well-being and libido also benefit from normalized testosterone levels."

Dr. Saad’s study was presented May 8 at the 19th European Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France. The research was conducted by employees of Bayer Pharma AG, a pharmaceutical company that produces testosterone replacement therapy.

A Study on BMI and Low Testosterone

BMI has been shown to be inversely associated with testosterone levels. The Swedish MrOS study, which included an analysis of 2416 men, showed a statistically significant decrease in BMI with increasing quartiles of total testosterone. (A quartile is a range of data values of three points that divide the data range into four equal groups, each group comprising a quarter of the data).

The average BMI of the subjects in the fourth (upper hormone range) quartile of total testosterone was 24.9, compared with 28.1 for those subjects in the first (lower hormone range) quartile of total testosterone. A similar inverse association between total testosterone levels and BMI was observed in the large population-based Hypogonadism In Males study as well. The Hypogonadism In Males study compared 836 hypogonadal men with 1326 eugonadal men. The mean BMI for hypogonadal men was found to be 31.5 compared with 28.5 for eugonadal men. The authors also demonstrated that the odds ratio for having hypogonadism was significantly higher in obese men, and there was a statistically significant negative correlation between total testosterone level and BMI.

The effects of testosterone replacement therapy on BMI were investigated by Kalinchenko et al. in 113 men with metabolic syndrome, who received a total of 3 intramuscular injections of testosterone—at baseline and after 6 and 18 weeks. Patients receiving testosterone replacement therapy were shown to have statistically significant improvement in their BMI, which had decreased by 1.3 at 30 weeks. Testosterone replacement therapy has also been shown to decrease fat mass. Corona et al. demonstrated in their meta-analysis that testosterone replacement therapy resulted in a decrease of 2.19% in fat mass. This discovery was confirmed in animal models as well.

The exact mechanism of action through which testosterone and obesity interact is unknown. This interaction may be a result of the promotion of lipolysis in abdominal adipose tissue by testosterone, which may, in turn, cause reduced abdominal adiposity. On the other hand, given that adipose tissue has a higher concentration of the enzyme aromatase, it could be that increased adipose tissue results in more testosterone being converted to estrogen, thereby causing hypogonadism. Third, increased abdominal obesity may cause reduced testosterone secretion by negatively affecting the hypothalamus-pituitary-testicular axis. Finally, testosterone may be the key factor in activating the enzyme 11-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in adipose tissue, which transforms glucocorticoids into their inactive form.

Is Testosterone Replacement Therapy Right For You?

Men who have gone through Testosterone Replacement Therapy in Arizona have reported an increase in energy level and sex drive.  It can also affect their mood.  Some of the men tested also showed an increase in bone density, muscle mass and insulin sensitivity.

But testosterone is not necessarily the answer for everyone.  Careful consideration should be given to not only the positive effects, but the long-term risks as well.  It’s important to discuss testosterone treatments with your doctor to determine if it’s the right therapy for you.

To find out if you suffer from low testosterone, you can simply schedule a blood test.  The results of this test and a thorough discussion with your doctor can help you decide if testosterone therapy is an option.  If you do decide to move forward with treatment, there are a few options available to you including:

  • Intramuscular injections
  • Sublingual troches taken daily
  • Testosterone creams that are applied to the shoulders, upper arms and abdomen

At TransfromYou, we invite you to give us a call and set up a free consultation to discuss your Testosterone Replacement Therapy options with a licensed physician today.  Find out what you may be missing in life.  There’s no reason to suffer the effects of low testosterone when a simple therapy can make such a big difference.