Around 42 percent of Americans are now obese, according to the Center For Disease Prevention findings. Of those living with obesity, 70 percent of men are living with a BMI of 25 and above. With rising levels of obesity, consumers now face an increased likelihood of conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease. However, the weight-related issues Americans are facing may also be impacting their sexual health. As many as 7 in 10 men aged 70 and older and 4 in 10 men aged 40 and older are faced with erectile dysfunction. Now, multiple research has shown just how strong the link between the health effects of obesity and erectile dysfunction can be

Defining Obesity In Men

The most common indicator of obesity to date has been by using BMI guidelines. According to the Body Mass Indicator, those with a BMI of 18-25 are deemed to be normal weight. To be considered obese, your BMI would have to be 30 and above. In addition to the BMI chart, there are several other indicators that men can use to determine whether they fall into the obese category including their waist circumference. For men, a waist size of 40 inches or more can indicate excessive belly fat while those dealing with osteoarthritis (joint pain) are more likely to be obese. 

Finally, another good indicator is your energy levels. Chronic fatigue and asthma are common in those that are overweight. If you find yourself exhausted by simple tasks like climbing a staircase and your BMI has crept up, chances are that you might be obese. To get started you can use a simple BMI calculator like the one found on the U.S Department Of Health And Human Services website.

How Do The Effects Of Obesity Correlate With Erectile Dysfunction?

It is no secret that there are a host of negative physical and mental health effects caused by being obese. One of the most cited physical effects: declining cardiovascular health and prevalence of conditions include atherosclerosis, heart failure, and coronary heart disease. In 2018, a published study The Impact of Obesity on the Cardiovascular System found that a 10 kg rise in body weight can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by 12 percent while an increase in BMI by 1 unit puts raises the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke by 6 percent.

Meanwhile, obesity also affects your chances of heart failure both directly and indirectly- a rise in BMI by 1 kg can boost the chances of heart failure in men by as much as 5 percent according to findings from the Framingham Heart Study. These diseases can account for up to 70 percent of erectile dysfunction cases reported today. In fact, atherosclerosis impacts around 50-60 percent of men aged 60 and older with ED.

However, obesity does not only affect our heart health. Its effects can also extend to the testosterone levels in men. Men only experience a 1 percent decline in testosterone each year. Any additional decline is therefore not attributed to age factors, but rather weight-related ones. Hypogonadism can be found in 75% of men that have a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2 and are not limited by age. Going back as far as 2008, a study revealed that a 4-inch increase in waist circumference raised a man’s chances of having low testosterone by 75 percent while 10 years of aging only increased it by 36 percent. More recently a study published by Eur Endocrinol in 2019 claimed obesity is now the single most significant risk factor for testosterone deficiency in men. Hormonal changes such as this account for another 3 percent of the cases of erectile dysfunction in men today.

Does This Mean If I Lose Weight, I Can Improve My Sex Life?

Based on the findings of several studies, it certainly seems so. Some of them suggest focusing on your cardiovascular health indicators like hypertension and cholesterol when losing weight since they are directly linked to erectile dysfunction as well as obesity. A 2014 study by the University of Adelaide claimed that men dealing with erectile dysfunction could address the condition by changing their lifestyle habits instead of medication. Of the 31 percent of participants that developed ED during the study, a majority of them were able to overcome it by addressing physical concerns such as losing weight.

How Can I Lose Weight Healthily As A Man?

With the link between maintaining a healthy weight and managing your erectile dysfunction being established, it is time to think about how you can approach losing weight healthily. To get started, you must focus on 3 areas: exercise, nutrition, and mindset. If you are someone that leads a sedentary lifestyle or is new to exercise it is important that you start off slow and ease yourself into it. Crash diet and exercise plans are not sustainable and therefore, cannot be realistically expected to give long term results.

Federal guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity in addition to muscle strengthening exercises twice a week. Unfortunately, only 23 percent of Americans achieve these guidelines. Starting off with a daily 30-minute jog and increasing your exercise activity allows your body to adjust to the strains of an exercise routine. The same applies to gym routines such as lifting weights. Weight lifting is great for boosting metabolism and different weight lifting exercise can target different parts of your body including your upper back, shoulder, and thighs.

To get your dietary habits on track, start with making small changes you can commit to. Swap fried and oil-laden foods for healthier baked or roasted alternatives. This is one of the top dietary recommendations for patients looking to improve their heart health as well. You also want to track your food intake and utilize a calorie calculator to work out just how many calories you need to eat daily. Losing weight is mainly about a calorie deficit. Every 3500 calorie deficit equals 1 lb of fat.

Finally, keep your diet fresh, colorful and as free of preservatives as possible. Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast or other meals particularly if you are training. Instead, stick to portion control, make sure you meet your protein requirement and swap your carb components for whole grain options such as brown rice. These are fiber-rich and keep you satisfied for longer, eliminating mindless snacking.

If you find that weight loss and regular exercise fosters no improvement in your ability to maintain a healthy sex life, it may be time to have a conversation with your doctor. Erectile dysfunction medications have been shown to help 70 percent of men.