Posts Tagged ‘overweight’

Men Left Out of Weight-Loss Market

Even though men are more likely to be overweight than women, men are not getting the weight-loss services they need.

Recent data from Britain is easily applied to the US, and around the world.

Using a Freedom of Information request, the Men’s Health Forum in Britain asked local authorities how many people had been helped by their weight-loss programs in 2013-2014.

The results show 110,324 women as compared with 29,919 men, suggesting that a woman is 277% (3½ times) more likely to get help with weight loss than a man, according to a news release.

Two-thirds of men in Britain are overweight or obese as compared with 57% of women.

Shocking Figures

“These figures are pretty shocking,” said Martin Tod, CEO of Men’s Health Forum.

“We want to see local councils making much bigger efforts to design their services to work for men.

This is particularly important because men account for three-quarters of premature deaths from coronary heart disease—and middle-aged men are twice as likely as women to get diabetes.”

According to a recent publication from the Men’s Health Forum, How To Make Weight-Loss Services Work For Men, there are several reasons for the gender gap.

These include poor advertising or marketing, services that are inappropriate or unattractive to men, and unsuitable venues or times.

Here is a summary of the highlights from the forum guide on what works with weight-loss for men:

Key lessons

1. Obesity prevention and treatment should take into account sex and gender-related differences.

2. Weight reduction for men is best achieved and maintained with the combination of a reducing diet, advice on physical activity, and behavior change techniques.

Men prefer more factual information on how to lose weight and more emphasis on physical activity than women.

3. Men-only groups may enhance effectiveness.

Group-based interventions should also provide some individual tailoring and individual feedback to male participants.

4. Weight-loss programs for men may be better provided in social settings, such as sports clubs and workplaces, which may be more successful at engaging men.

No Strict Diets, Please

In general, men express a dislike of “strict” diets.

Intermittent periods of dieting may be more effective for men than regular periods of dieting.

► Men particularly enjoy the use of pedometers to monitor their physical activity.

► Men prefer interventions that are individualized, fact-based, flexible, use business-like language, and include simple to understand information.

► Men are less likely than women to do well using the drug Orlistat to help long-term weight-loss maintenance.

► Men differ from women when it comes to encouraging them and maintaining participation in weight-loss programs.

Men are significantly less likely than women to join a weight-loss program, but once recruited they are less likely than women to drop out.

► Middle-aged men in particular, are more motivated to lose weight once they become aware that they have a health problem, for example, being diagnosed as “obese” by a health care professional.

Understanding the health benefits of losing weight can act as a motivator for men, for example, knowing that weight loss may prevent the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus or that weight reduction may improve erectile function.

Obese Are More Susceptible to Respiratory Infections

If you are overweight, you are at increased risk for catching the flu and other potentially serious respiratory diseases.

So say the results of a new study that adds more evidence that obesity alters the body’s immune system, leaving heavy people vulnerable to respiratory infections.

“Being sick — even if it is just a cold — is not fun, and reducing the frequency of respiratory infections is desirable for anyone.

Most obese patients are already well aware of the risk of diabetes and other chronic conditions associated with obesity, but they probably aren’t aware of the immunosuppression and increased risk of acute infections as well,” said Jeffrey Kwong, MD, from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Earlier studies have shown that antibodies produced in response to flu shots plunge dramatically among obese people compared with those who have healthy weights.

The Heavier the Person, the Higher the Risk

Dr. Kwong and colleagues, including lead author Michael Campitelli, MPH, conducted a retrospective cohort study for a period of 13 years involving more than 100,000 persons in Ontario, Canada, who responded to population health surveys.

The researchers published their results in the January 2014 issue of the International Journal of Obesity.

They observed higher rates of outpatient visits to a physician’s office or emergency department for acute respiratory infections during the influenza season for those who were overweight and obese compared with normal weight people — even though the heavier people were more likely to be vaccinated.

The increased risk was highest among those who were the heaviest.

The rates were 20% higher in severely obese people who had a body mass index (BMI) of 35 kg/m2 or higher than in people of normal weight.

The researchers also saw lower but similar increased risks of respiratory infections among the obese people during seasons when flu was not circulating.

Increased Risk of Flu

“Obese people with a BMI of 30 or higher had more outpatient visits for acute respiratory infections during both influenza and non-influenza seasons,” said Dr. Kwong.

“This suggests that obesity not only increased the risk for influenza infection, but for other respiratory pathogens, likely both viral and bacterial.”

Deficits in the immune system can impair the response to respiratory pathogens and enhance susceptibility to infections.

“Both animal and human studies have noted immune function deficiencies among those who are obese,” Dr Kwong said.

Losing Weight Boosts the Immune System

In fact, losing weight may help boost the immune system for obese people.

“Studies of cell function in obese people have shown improvements in immune responsiveness following weight loss or dietary restriction,” Dr. Kwong said.

“For example, obese individuals showed increased T-cell responsiveness to mitogen following a weight reduction program.

Therefore, reducing weight in an obese person may help improve some of the obesity-related immune deficiencies, leading to a more robust response against respiratory pathogens.”

The bottom line is that “this represents yet another potential motivator for obese people to lose weight,” said Dr. Kwong.

Obese, Overweight Men Have Inferior Semen

Men who are overweight or obese have lower sperm counts and lower ejaculate volumes, according to the results of the first study to make this association in men who were trying to conceive, but who did not have known infertility.

“Our study provides further data showing the link between being overweight and sperm quality,” said lead author Dr. Michael Eisenberg of Stanford University School of Medicine.

“Most prior studies examined infertile men only, while our study examines all men who were trying to conceive.

Moreover, we looked at both body mass index (BMI) as well as waist circumference to determine the relationship with sperm production.”

Dr. Eisenberg and colleagues examined data from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment Study, a population-based, prospective cohort of more than 500 couples attempting to conceive in Texas and Michigan.

They analyzed data from 468 men, mean age 32, the majority of whom (82%) were overweight or obese.

More than half said they participated in physical activity less than once a week.

Fewer than 10% had a low sperm count.

The researchers reported their results online on December 4, 2013 in the journal Human Reproduction.

When the researchers examined semen parameters, they found that ejaculate volume declined with increasing BMI and waist circumference.

Similarly, the total sperm count showed a linear decline with waist circumference.

A man in the normal BMI range had an ejaculate volume of 3.3 mL, compared with 2.8 mL for men who were severely obese.

Men with the largest waists, more than 40 inches, had about 22% lower total sperm count compared with men who had waist measurements under 37 inches.

The percentage of men with abnormal volume, concentration, and total sperm increased with increasing body size.

There was no significant relationship seen between body size and other fertility factors, including semen concentration, motility, vitality, morphology, or DNA fragmentation index.

“Body size as measured by BMI or waist circumference is negatively associated with semen parameters, with little influence of physical activity,” Dr. Eisenberg noted.

The Heavier Man, The Lower the Sperm Count

The heavier the man, the higher the chances of a low sperm count, he suggested.

“I think bringing attention to another adverse outcome of obesity is important,” Dr. Eisenberg said.

“Men need to know that in addition to health aspects, obesity may also impair reproductive goals.”

It’s still unknown what a reduction in body weight does to the sperm counts of men starting with a low sperm count, Dr. Eisenberg noted.

“We don’t have a good answer at this point,” he said.

“However, we do know that weight loss helps overall health, so at a minimum we can expect a health benefit for an overweight man who loses weight.”

Dr. Eisenberg stated that primary care physicians need to “bring awareness to this relationship.

This may provide another motivation for men to change lifestyle habits, knowing that it can impact fertility.”

In addition, as men discuss plans for starting a family, this study can provide important information as to who may be at risk for impaired fertility, he noted.

Six Ways to Control Your Weight

Healthy Weight Week (January 15 to 21) kicks off today to celebrate healthy diet-free living habits that last a lifetime and prevent weight problems.

Two-thirds of the American population is overweight or obese, and obesity numbers will continue to rise unless Americans stop eating more calories than they use, according to Brian Sharkey, a leading fitness researcher and author of Fitness Illustrated (Human Kinetics, 2011).

“In ages past, when the human food supply was unpredictable, people could not count on three square meals a day; as a result, the human body learned how to store energy in the form of fat,” Sharkey says.

“Today, most of us enjoy access to a dependable and plentiful food supply, but our bodies still store energy even though the need for doing so is gone.”

To lose weight, Sharkey says people often turn to restrictive diets, which can backfire and cause weight gain.

“When you diet, your body becomes more fuel efficient and your metabolic rate declines,” Sharkey explains.

“As a result, even more dieting or exercise is required in order to reduce excess weight.

During this cycle, your weight loss slows, and you regain weight three times faster.”

When a person is on a diet, the body uses protein for energy, which means a person can lose muscle protein with each dieting cycle.

As muscle is lost, the capacity to burn calories is reduced.

“Thus, each time you diet to lose weight, you lose lean tissue and must therefore decrease your caloric intake in order to avoid subsequent weight gain,” Sharkey adds.

“As a result, the only way to minimize the loss of lean tissue while dieting is to exercise.”

The safest way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat fewer calories and burn more with physical activity.

In Fitness Illustrated, Sharkey offers six keys to maintaining a healthy weight:

1. If you are active, consume 55 to 60 percent of each day’s calories in the form of complex carbohydrate (beans, brown rice, corn, potatoes, or whole-grain products) and fruit.

2. Limit your fat intake and avoid saturated fat and trans fat.

3. Eat a sufficient amount of lean, high-quality protein (15 percent of your daily caloric intake) to meet your protein needs during training.

4. Achieve weight control by balancing your caloric intake with your caloric expenditure.

5. Since metabolic rate declines with age, you will have to eat less, engage in more activity, or do both in order to maintain a healthy weight.

6. Remember that dieting often leads to future weight gain, especially when it is done without physical activity.