Impaired quality of life and sexual function in overweight and obese men: the European Male Ageing Study

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Background: Few published data link overweight and obesity with measures of quality of life (QoL) including sexual health in men. Objective: To assess the association of overweight/obesity with impairment of physical and psychological QoL and sexual functions in men. Design and setting: Cross-sectional, multicentre survey of 3369 community-dwelling men aged 40-79 (mean +/- S.D., 60 +/- 11) years randomly selected from eight European centres. Outcomes: Adiposity was assessed by body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC), QoL and functional impairments by physical and psychological function domains of the Short Form-36 questionnaire, Beck's Depression Inventory and the European Male Ageing Study sexual function questionnaire. Results: Complete data on sexual activities and erectile function were available in 2734 (92%) and 3193 (95%) of the participants respectively. From the population studied, 814 men were obese (BMI >= 30 kg/m(2)) and 1171 had WC >= 102 cm, 25% of all men were unable to do vigorous activity and 2-13% reported depressive symptoms. Symptoms of sexual dysfunction ranged between 22% (low sexual desire) and 40% (infrequent morning erections) of the participants. Among obese men with both BMI >= 30 kg/m(2) and WC >= 102 cm, at least one symptom of impaired physical, psychological and sexual function was reported by 41, 43 and 73% of the participants respectively. Compared with the reference group of non-obese men (BMI < 30 kg/m(2) and WC < 102cm), men with BMI >= 30 kg/m(2) and WC >= 102 cm more frequently reported at least one symptom of impaired physical function (odds ratio (OR)=2.67; confidence interval (CI): 2.07-3.45, P < 0.001), impaired psychological function (OR=1.48; CI: 1.14-1.90, P < 0.01) and impaired sexual function (OR=1.45; CI: 1.14-1.85, P < 0.01). These functional impairments were also more prevalent in men who had WC >= 102 cm even with BMI < 30 kg/m(2), but those with BMI >= 30 kg/m(2) and WC < 102 cm generally did not suffer from increased impaired physical or sexual health. Men with high BMI and WC were at even greater likelihood of having a composite of two or more or three or more symptoms compared with those with normal BMI and WC. Conclusions: Men with high WC, including those who are 'non-obese' with BMI < 30 kg/m(2), have poor QoL with symptoms of impaired physical, psychological and sexual functions. Health promotion to improve QoL should focus on prevention of obesity and central fat accumulation.


  • Thang S. Han
  • Abdelouahid Tajar
  • Terence W. O'Neill
  • Min Jiang
  • Gyoergy Bartfai
  • Steven Boonen
  • Felipe Casanueva
  • Joseph D. Finn
  • Gianni Forti
  • Aleksander Giwercman
  • Ilpo T. Huhtaniemi
  • Krzysztof Kula
  • Neil Pendleton
  • Margus Punab
  • Alan J. Silman
  • Dirk Vanderschueren
  • Michael E. J. Lean
  • Frederick C. W. Wu
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1011
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch