WEDNESDAY, Feb. 9, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity in teenage boys has all sorts of health consequences, including lower-than-normal testosterone concentrations.
But weight loss surgery may help: A small new study says it can reverse low testosterone in obese teen boys, improving fertility and sexual functioning.
"It is remarkable that testosterone levels more than doubled and, in fact, normalized in most adolescent boys who underwent bariatric surgery, and this was maintained up to five years," said study co-author Dr. Thomas Inge. He's surgeon-in-chief and director of the adolescent bariatric surgery program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States.
The study, led by Dr. Paresh Dandona from the University at Buffalo (N.Y.), included 34 severely obese male teens who were followed for five years after they had weight-loss (bariatric) surgery.
Prior to surgery, only 27% of the teens had normal free testosterone levels. Two years after weight-loss surgery, 80% had normal levels, but that fell to 67% after five years, likely due to some weight regained.
"This testosterone response was greater than that expected in adults undergoing these same operations and adds to the growing list of benefits of using bariatric surgery in teenagers with severe obesity," Inge said in a Lurie Children's news release.
The teens in the study also had large reductions in inflammation and insulin resistance after their weight-loss surgery. This suggests that the surgery may improve future metabolic health and fertility in severely obese male teens, according to the researchers.
"The rise in testosterone levels paired with improvement in insulin sensitivity after bariatric surgery point to benefits in improving glucose metabolism, fertility, lipid [fat] metabolism, bone mineralization and muscle mass," said Dr. Ellen Kim, a pediatric endocrinologist at Lurie Children’s. These changes can help decrease deaths over the life span related to obesity-related complications, she added.
The study was published Feb. 1 in the European Journal of Endocrinology.
There's more on weight-loss surgery at the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
SOURCE: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, news release, Feb. 2, 2022