Erectile Dysfunction and Obesity: Another Sad Story, Same Happy Ending

Aug 3 2005 - 8:16pm

Having said that about sexual health, consider some of the other outcomes:

  • In the supervised group, overall blood pressure was lowered, but not in the control group.
  • In the supervised group, overall cholesterol levels dropped, but the subjects had an increase in their good HDL cholesterol levels. The control group's overall cholesterol went up, but with no increase in their good HDL levels.
  • Triglyceride levels and C-reactive protein counts also dropped for the supervised group, but not the control.
  • You probably recognize these things as factors in heart health and diabetes, and so you can understand how the supervised subjects' also reduced their disease risk.

The researchers also tested endothelial function , the performance of cells lining the blood vessels, which has an impact on both cardiovascular health and erectile function. The chronic oxidative stress and inflammation caused by obesity impairs endothelial function. Here again, the men in the intervention group showed improvement, while the control group did not.

We already knew from previous research that overweight men who initiate weight loss in mid-life have 70 percent less risk of ever having erectile dysfunction than those who remain sedentary. The current study was meant to determine if weight loss could also reverse erectile dysfunction that had already set in, and it seems clear that it can.

If sales of Viagra, Levitra and Cialis are any indication, the pursuit of vigorous sexual function is a strong motivator for men of any age. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in promoting the take-a-pill approach to that pursuit, and millions of men have responded, in spite of potential side effects and other health risks involved.

Imagine if even a few million dollars were invested in a public education campaign letting men know that just losing weight and improving their fitness could be the answer to their personal distress.

It's true that recently, there have been more public health efforts to promote weight-loss and fitness in general, especially given the epidemic of obesity and associated increases in diabetes and heart disease. But imagine the impact of a campaign that gave men the concrete goal of a healthy sex life. Most would agree that seems more tangible to the average fellow than say, lowering his triglycerides.

There's likely to be some personal cost involved in pursuing comprehensive weight loss treatment. But how do those costs compare to the expense of prescription approaches? And consider how much overall health care costs would go down if men tried to recover their lost virility by losing weight and getting healthy, instead of popping a pill.



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