Understanding how obesity affects men’s health

By: Sophia Lin

Raffles Hotel Arcade and Star Vista
Posted on: 18 Jun 2024

Obesity has emerged as a significant concern all over the world. With sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy dietary habits becoming common, the prevalence of obesity in Singaporeans has also surged as a result. According to HealthHub, the number of people living with obesity has increased, with 11.6% of the population aged 18-74 being affected.This marks an increase from the previous rate of 10.5% in 2019/2020.

Notably, men are disproportionately affected, with obesity rates climbing from 11.9% in 2019/2020 to 13.1% in 2021/2022. This places numerous Singaporean men at heightened risk of various comorbidities and metabolic complications.

While the surge in obesity rates is concerning, it is important to recognise that it can be mitigated.

How is obesity defined or measured?

Obesity is characterised by the accumulation of excess body fat, presenting potential health implications for individuals. Assessment typically revolves around the Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated from an individual’s weight and height. A BMI reading of 30 or higher signifies obesity.

What causes obesity in men?

While the overconsumption of processed foods and lack of physical activity are common contributors to obesity, several other factors warrant consideration. Genetic predisposition, with a family history of obesity, for instance, could increase the risk. Health conditions like hypothyroidism may also contribute to weight gain. Additionally, psychological factors like stress, anxiety, or depression may provoke overeating and, consequently, obesity.

The health implications of obesity in men

As mentioned, obesity poses significant health risks for men, encompassing various comorbidities and metabolic complications.

These are some of the health risks that could develop when obesity is left unmanaged:

1. Cardiovascular conditions

Obesity can potentially contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, primarily due to excess body fat accumulation, particularly around the abdomen. This accumulation is linked with elevated blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, which could strain the heart and blood vessels and increase the susceptibility to heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular conditions.

2. Type 2 Diabetes

Having excess body fat may cause insulin resistance, reducing the cells’ responsiveness to said hormone. This could potentially lead to elevated blood sugar levels and increase the likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Thereafter, the failure to manage Type 2 Diabetes could result in severe health complications for men grappling with obesity.

3. Joint and musculoskeletal problems

Carrying excess weight could put undue strain on the joints and musculoskeletal system. This can lead to conditions such as osteoarthritis, which could potentially affect weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips.

Furthermore, men living with obesity may experience chronic pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility, which can further discourage physical activity and create a vicious cycle of weight gain and decreased physical function.

4. Depression and anxiety

While mental health conditions, like stress, anxiety and depression, could lead to overeating, obesity could also potentially trigger negative emotions associated with these conditions as well. This is because the social stigma that comes with obesity can often bring feelings of shame, low self-esteem, and isolation. As such, these psychological challenges could contribute to a cycle of overeating and eventual emotional distress.

5. Erectile dysfunction

Obesity could also lead to erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition where a man is unable to maintain an erection sufficient for sexual activity. This is often due to impaired blood flow, hormonal imbalances, and psychological factors associated with obesity. As a result, ED can significantly impact the quality of life and relationships, making it an important health concern for men living with obesity.

How to manage obesity in men

Properly managing your weight is essential to mitigate the risk of developing the health conditions linked to obesity.

There are several strategies and lifestyle choices that can help you keep your weight in check, such as:

  • Diet and nutrition: Adopting the habit of preparing and consuming a balanced diet is crucial for proper weight management. Make sure to have a balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. At the same time, it is important to limit processed foods, sugars and processed fats in your diet. We offer a Weight Management course which provides a personalised programme to manage diet and exercise.
  • Physical activity: Setting aside time in your day to engage in exercises is a must. Consider engaging in aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises for healthy weight management. However, if you have a pre-existing condition, a personalised weight loss programme is advised.
  • Behavioural therapy: Seek support from mental health professionals to address underlying psychological issues that could trigger overeating.
  • Medical interventions: In some cases, weight-loss medications or surgery may be necessary. Consulting with trusted healthcare providers from a men’s health clinic can help identify an appropriate course of action.

How can lifestyle medicine help with obesity in men?

Lifestyle medicine focuses on using evidence-based lifestyle interventions to manage chronic diseases like obesity. It offers a holistic approach to chronic disease management, addressing all aspects of health, including diet, exercise, sleep, stress management and social support.

Patients will also have to undergo a comprehensive men’s physical check-up so that the doctor can tailor interventions that address their individual needs and preferences to make the weight management journey sustainable. Doctors can then provide ongoing support and resources to help individuals ease into healthy lifestyle changes. For more information make your appointment to see a doctor and discuss how to get on the path to weight loss.

Raffles Hotel Arcade Star Vista