Obesity, body fat distribution and sex hormones in men

S. M. Haffner, R. A. Valdez, M. P. Stern, M. S. Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


An unfavourable body fat distribution may cause metabolic abnormalities including diabetes and dyslipidemia. These effects may be mediated by alterations in sex hormones. In women the available data suggest that upper body adiposity is related to increased androgenicity (especially as indicated by low concentrations of sex hormone binding globulin). Few data, however, are available on these relationships in men. We therefore examined the association of total testosterone, free testosterone, oestradiol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEA-SO4) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) to waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and conicity index in 178 men from the San Antonio Heart Study, a population-based study of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The conicity index is equal to the abdominal circumference divided by 0.109 x the square root of (weight/height). The conicity index and WHR were significantly inversely related to DHEA-SO4 and free testosterone. SHBG was only weakly associated with body mass index (r = -0.18, P < 0.05). After adjustment for age and body mass index, DHEA-SO4 remained inversely correlated with WHR (r = -0.22, P < 0.01) and conicity index (r = -0.31, P < 0.001) and free testosterone remained inversely associated with conicity index (r = -0.21, P 0.01). Thus, in men, the association between unfavourable body fat distribution and increased androgenicity is inverse in contrast to the situation in women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-649
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1993


  • Age
  • Body fat distribution
  • Obesity
  • Oestradiol
  • Sex Hormones
  • Sex hormone binding globulin
  • Testosterone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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