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    Obese Men Have Less Chance To Get Married

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    According to the new report that was presented this week at an international conference on obesity in Amsterdam, men who were extremely overweight at the age of 18 years, were 50 per cent less likely to get married by reaching their 30s and 40s.

    The findings, which held true even when other factors such as socio-economic status or intellectual abilities of men, were taken into account. This could only suggest that women rank a man's appearance higher than other characteristics when it comes to choosing a partner. Indeed, this could be one explanation, said a lead investigator of the study, scientist Malin Kark of the Swedish Karolinska Instituted medical University, on the sidelines of the four-day gathering hosted by the European Association for the Study of Obesity.

    Kark's study was carried out involving more than 500,000 Swedish men who were born between 1951 and 1961. The results revealed that men who had been obese at the age of 18, were 46 per cent less likely to be married in 1991, when they were aged between 30 and 40 years, compared to men who did not experience any problems with weight, and 45 per cent less likely to get married by 2004. For men who were simply overweight but not obese at the age of 18 years, the chances of getting married were to some extent higher - 10 per cent lower than for male individuals with normal weight in their 30s and 9 per cent lower in their 40s.

    "We think this shows that there is stigmatization of obese young men that continues into adulthood - in their working life and also in inter-personal relationships," said Kark. While no information was available on the men's weight in adulthood, other studies have found that obese adolescents were more likely to become obese adults, she added.

    According to another report that was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, being obese may negatively affect a man's chances of becoming a father, even in the case of being quite healthy otherwise.

    In this study the investigators found that among 87 healthy men with the ages between 19 and 48 years, those who suffered from obesity, were less likely to have ever fathered a child. What is even more important, these men showed differences in hormones that point to a reduced reproductive capacity. In comparison with their thinner counterparts, obese men had lower testosterone levels in their blood, as well as lower levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) - both important for reproduction. Scientists say that these relatively low levels of LH and FSH are suggestive of a "partial" hypogonadotropic hypogonadism. This is a condition in which the testes do not function in a proper way due to signaling problems in the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, two brain structures that are involved in hormone secretion.

    Of the 87 men who have been examined for the purposes of the study, 68 per cent had had a child. The team of experts at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in Hershey, found that the average body mass index (BMI), among these men was lower than among those who had never fathered a child. The group of men who had children had the average BMI of 28, which is considered as "overweight," while the average BMI for childless men was about 32, which falls into the "obese" category.

    When the researchers assessed the men for several reproductive hormones, they found that the more obese a man was, the lower were his LH and FSH levels. On the other hand, increasing obesity was associated with increasing levels of estrogen. Excess body fat, the investigators explained, may increase the conversion of testosterone to estrogen in a man's blood. Such hormone alterations could, in turn, signal the brain to suppress FSH and LH production.

    The World Health Organization estimates that in 2005 more than 1.5 billion adults were overweight, of which at least 400 million were obese.

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