Do female hormones play a part in obesity?

16 June 2014

An imbalance of female hormones among men could be playing a key role in the high levels of male obesity in western nations, suggests new research from the University of Adelaide.

Researchers from the institutions claim obesity among western men could be linked to exposure to oestrogen - a substance that can be found in soy products and plastics used in affluent societies.

To conduct the study, the obesity rates of men and women around the world were compared to determine the impact of wealth. 

The team found that it was relatively normal for women in the developing world to have greater levels of obesity than men, but this was not the same in western nations.

Professor Maciej Henneberg, co-author of the study, commented: "Exposure to oestrogen is known to cause weight gain, primarily through thyroid inhibition and modulation of the hypothalamus. 

“Soy products contain xenoestrogens, and we are concerned that in societies with a high dietary saturation of soy, such as the United States, this could be working to 'feminise' the males. This would allow men in those communities to artificially imitate the female pattern of weight gain.”

The professor believes more research is needed to better understand whether these factors are leading to a "feminisation" of men in the western world.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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