Q&A Topic: Men and Obesity

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Mitchell S. Roslin, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Q. Are women or men more likely to undergo bariatric surgery?

A. If your body mass index (BMI) is over 30, you’re obese. In the United States, obesity affects men and women evenly. But treatment is not so evenly distributed. In fact, four times as many women as men have bariatric surgery. Women suffer more from the stigma of obesity and are more likely to seek treatment for psychosocial reasons than men. An overweight man typically sees himself as just a big, loveable guy. Obesity often goes unresolved in men, which is dangerous.

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Q. What are the top factors that contribute to obesity in men?

A.  Men are more likely to be bulk eaters than women. They gain weight by eating a lot of bread, starch, and pizza – simple carbs that turn to sugar quickly. If your body is continuously flooded with sugar, it must produce extra insulin to keep glucose in check. Excess insulin is a serious issue because it promotes fat storage. But, if you’re a man it’s more socially acceptable to be overweight. If you watch the NFL games during football season, you’ll see many heavy men on the field.  Instead of viewing them as obese, we view them as champions. They’re big, strong and tough. Heavy men who are athletic or monetarily successful, suffer much less discrimination than young, heavy females. Obese men frequently say: “I’m heavy, but I’m healthy.” The truth is, those big NFL players may have significant health problems when they stop playing if they don’t lose weight. Many are candidates for bariatric surgery.

Q. Are obese men particularly susceptible to diseases and issues relating to obesity?

A. Yes. Though women are more likely to undergo bariatric surgery to lower their risk for subsequent diseases, it is men who are more likely to die from complications of obesity. Men tend to have more central obesity around their abdomens which is strongly associated with a higher risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. The higher your waist size, the higher your risk. Obese men are also more susceptible to sexual dysfunction. In fact, if you’re obese you’re two and a half times more likely to experience Erectile Dysfunction than men of a normal weight. Why? If you’re obese, you have lower levels of testosterone, and cholesterol deposits could cause a lack of blood flow to your organs, including the penis.

Q. When is surgery a good option?

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A.  If the quality of your life is being functionally impaired – whether because of diabetes, sleep apnea, or a poor sex life – I recommend exploring surgical weight loss. Men: Don’t be stubborn. If you’ve tried losing weight and dieting and exercise haven’t worked, surgical weight loss is a viable option. It’s important to understand that surgical weight loss isn’t cosmetic surgery. While a slimmer looking reflection is an added bonus, the purpose of surgical weight loss is to jump-start a healthier lifestyle and break the cycle of obesity for you. Surgery also breaks most weight-related health conditions.

Learn More about Dr. Roslin
Director, Bariatric Surgery
Northern Westchester Hospital

Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health.

Read Past Topics from Dr. Roslin:
Sleep Apnea and Obesity
Benefits of Weight-Loss Surgery
Metabolic Syndrome
Obesity, Weight Loss, and Bariatric Surgery
Q&A Topic: Obesity and Women’s Health

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