Obesity common factor for poor health among men

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Obesity among men appears to be a common factor responsible for much of the burden of poor health, according to a leading edge study undertaken by the University of Adelaide's Department of Medicine.

Launched today by the Hon Lea Stevens, Minister for Health in the South Australian Government at the Port Adelaide Football Club, the Florey Adelaide Male Aging Study (FAMAS) involved randomly selected men aged between 35 and 80, and residing in the North Western Suburbs of Adelaide.

"The analysis of the first set of data obtained reveals a high prevalence of obesity, chronic physical and psychological disease and a high prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease," said Associate Professor Gary Wittert, Head, Department of Medicine, University of Adelaide. "And obesity appears to be a common factor responsible for much of the burden of poor health."

Dr Wittert said it is also clear that erectile and sexual dysfunctions are common disorders, also related to obesity and other cardiovascular risk factors, and associated with significant misery and distress.

The study focused on three aspects of aging men:

  • Their utilisation of health services;
  • Endocrinology of ageing, particularly androgens; and
  • Prostate health and function in relation to the hormonal changes of aging.

"I do not believe these issues have been addressed in any of the cohort studies of aging men conducted in Australia, or South Australia.

"South Australia has the oldest age profile in the country and this demographic feature has significant economic and social consequences," Dr Wittert said.

Dr Wittert said the study would provide information that will influence future planning and delivery of men's health care and policy information in South Australia. To date, data has been collected from 600 men and the next round of recruitment will commence later this month.

"The extent to, and ways in which, men access and interact with the health care system remains unclear. The quality of, and factors that affect, that interaction and might produce the most optimal outcome are not known, and will be the focus of our ongoing research," Dr Wittert said.

Dr Wittert said what is clear is that in order to effectively intervene and reduce the prevalence of these non-communicable diseases, the following require attention:

  • Behavioural risk factors (tobacco use, diet and physical inactivity);
  • Socioeconomic and environmental conditions; and
  • Adequate screening and management of intermediate risk factors (hypertension, blood lipids, obesity/overweight, glucose intolerance and diabetes, depression and anxiety).

Last year, the study received $450,000 from the Florey Foundation and the University of Adelaide along with support from Bayer, the Northern Community Health Foundation, Department of Human Service, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Eli Lilly, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Fauldings (Mayne Pharma) and In-Business magazine.

Media Contact:

Associate Professor Gary Wittert
Head, Department of Medicine
Work: +61 8 8222 4157
Mobile: 0409 411 789

David Ellis, Media Office
Telephone: +61 8 8303 3173 (work), 0414 559 773 (mobile)

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