Objective: Obesity negatively affects human health. Limiting food intake, while producing some weight loss, results in reduction of lean body mass. Combined with moderate exercise it produces significant weight loss, maintains lean body mass and improves insulin sensitivity, but appears difficult to adhere to. Bariatric surgery is clinically effective for severely obese individuals compared with non-surgical interventions, but has limitations. Clinical and pre-clinical studies have implicated a role for testosterone (T) in the patho-physiology of obesity.
Methods: Evidence Acquisition and Synthesis: A literature search in PubMed on the role of T in counteracting obesity and its complications.
Results: Obesity per se impairs testicular T biosynthesis. Furthermore, lower-than-normal T levels increase accumulation of fat depots, particularly abdominal (visceral) fat. This fat distribution is associated with development of metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its sequels, namely type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). T treatment reverses fat accumulation with significant improvement in lean body mass, insulin sensitivity and biochemical profiles of cardiovascular risk. The contribution of T to combating obesity in hypogonadal men remains largely unknown to medical professionals managing patients with obesity and metabolic syndrome. Many physicians associate T treatment in men with risks for prostate malignancy and CVD. These beliefs are not supported by recent insights.
Conclusion: While overall treatment of obesity is unsuccessful, T treatment of hypogonadal men may be effective, also because it improves mood, energy, reduces fatigue and may motivate men to adhere to diet and exercise regimens designed to combat obesity.