Ask Your Doctor about Low T and Big O

For those of you living under a rock, the rest of us are being pummeled with ads urging us to ask our doctors about low T. Who knew that low T was a huge medical crisis? Well, in fact, the prevalence of low testosterone levels is growing and it’s driven largely by two factors: an aging population and obesity.

Men’s average testosterone levels have been dropping by 1% per year. Mark Ng Tang Fui recently published data that showed age and obesity are the primary risk factors for low T, more so than diabetes. But our healthcare system more readily provides a prescription for testosterone than it provides for the more complex effort to treat obesity. That’s why we get treated to endless ads showing a man and his woman finding happiness by asking his doctor about low T.

Now comes the news that FDA is looking into the risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with testosterone products.

We could be doing more about a primary factor behind this problem — obesity, in case you didn’t guess. Dorte Glintborg looked at health-related quality of life in older men, asking if it might be determined more by testosterone levels or obesity. Her data, just published in Age and Ageing, showed that waist circumference had the strongest association with reduced quality of life.

But presently, more money and effort goes into prodding men to ask their doctors for testosterone to rub onto their underarms. Equipping and paying healthcare professionals to treat obesity must rise to the top of the to-do list if we want to get to the root of this and many other problems related to obesity.

The Obesity Action Coalition is working on it with the Your Weight Matters campaign. Likewise the Obesity Society is reaching out to healthcare professionals with the Treat Obesity Seriously campaign. These campaigns are a good start, but the effort must grow.

Click here and here to read more in the New York Times, here to read the study of determinants of low T, and here to read the study of obesity, testosterone, and quality of life in older men.

Testosterone & Horsepower, photograph © Ed Schipul / flickr

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