Australian researchers have begun a world-first study that aims to help men lose weight and prevent diabetes - by giving them more testosterone.
The $4.8 million study will look at the potential benefits of treating men with testosterone supplements in conjunction with a dedicated weight-loss program through Weight Watchers.
Up to 1500 Australian men most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, aged 50-74, are now being recruited to join the study in the States of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
"We know that as men get older and gain weight - especially when they become large around the belly - they often suffer from reduced testosterone levels," says the leader of the study, Professor Gary Wittert from the University of Adelaide's School of Medicine.
"Lower testosterone has many implications for men's health, such as reduced motivation to exercise and lack of sexual function. It is also closely associated with type 2 diabetes, which is an enormous health burden for Australia.
"By giving testosterone supplements to men in that critical pre-diabetes stage, and by putting them on a dedicated weight-loss program, we expect to see sustained reductions in weight and a reduced chance to develop type 2 diabetes."
Men who sign up for the study will have complimentary access to Weight Watchers and can follow the program either by attending meetings or online, which is ideal for men who prefer not to attend a weight loss group.
Professor Wittert says the study, which will be conducted over at least two years of the participants' lives, could potentially have a range of other health benefits for those who take part in it.
He says: "Our hope is that this study will be a life-changing event for many men in Australia. Older men who have developed a large belly and are at risk of diabetes now have an opportunity to do something about their weight, improve their lives, and provide us with all-important research results that could benefit many others in the future."
The study is known as T4DM (Testosterone 4 the prevention of Diabetes Mellitus) and is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
University of Adelaide's School of Medicine