Why Men May Benefit More from Weight Loss

Last week I blogged about an article by Jennifer Kuk, (York University, Toronto) on the effect of weight satisfaction on healthy behaviours.

Now Jennifer is back, with her Mentor Bob Ross (Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario) with an article on sex differences in regional weight loss between obese men and women, published in the International Journal of Obesity.

In this study, Kuk and Ross examined changes in total, subcutaneous, and visceral (intra-abdominal) fat using sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 81 men and 72 women who had participated in various diet and/or exercise interventions at Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada.

Although, there was a significant correlation between weight loss and reductions in waist circumference with changes in total, subcutaneous, and visceral fat, for a given weight loss, men had a significantly greater decrease in waist circumference and visceral fat than women – the greater the weight loss, the greater the sex difference in loss of visceral fat.

These finding may have important clinical implications: as most of the metabolic complications of obesity are associated with excess visceral rather than subcutaneous fat, it appears that for the same amount of weight loss, the health benefits may be greater for men than for women.

Given my previous posting on why women are more likely to gain weight and may have a harder time losing it, guys seem to come out of this with a clear advantage.

This said, it continues to be disconcerting that most obesity programs consistently report an overbearing majority of female patients (generally over 80%) – the guys appear far less concerned about or interested in losing weight.

Perhaps the news that men who lose weight, are more likely to lose the “unhealthy” visceral fat, may drive more men to seek obesity treatment – if so, I’d be very surprised!

Edmonton, Alberta