According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third (34.9 percent, or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese, and the rate of obesity in men of reproductive age has almost tripled in the past 30 years. This rate of obesity has been linked to an increase in male infertility.
In a review paper recently published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design, titled “Male fertility and obesity: are ghrelin, leptin and glucagon-like peptide-1 pharmacologically relevant?” a team of researchers led by Professor Pedro F. Oliveira at the University of Porto in Portugal discussed obesity and its impact on the reproductive potential of males.
Overweight and obese men have been shown to have a 50 percent higher chance of encountering fertility problems compared to normal-weight men, among other health issues. Overweight and obese men present severe alterations in their body composition and hormonal profile, particularly in ghrelin, leptin, and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) levels. These hormones regulate body glucose homeostasis, and several studies suggest that they can serve as targets for anti-obesity drugs.
“Obesity is a metabolic disease that promotes a strong hormonal dysfunction. Gut hormones are known to be strongly affected by the energy unbalance induced by overconsumption of food. However, the impact of those hormones on male reproductive system remains unknown,” said Marco G. Alves, first author of the study, in a recent news release.
“Gut and adipose hormones are currently on spotlight for a growing number of researchers and the pandemic numbers of obesity highlights their relevance. A complete elucidation of male fertility involving those hormones will have important clinical implications and also unveil mechanisms and pathways for a therapeutic approach in the treatment of male subfertility/infertility associated with obesity,” Alves added.
The study discussed state-of-the-art evidence concerning male obesity and infertility. In recent years, this team of researchers has published several scientific studies providing evidence that dietary habits, as well as lifestyle factors, play a fundamental role in male reproductive health.
The team believes that infertility in obese men is a health concern that should be addressed. The researchers also emphasized that this health issue deserves attention from the media and policymakers.