Body mass index, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio and change in sex steroid hormones: The Massachusetts Male Ageing Study

Carol A. Derby, Sophia Zilber, Don Brambilla, Knashawn H. Morales, John B. McKinlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

243 Scopus citations


Objective: Cross-sectional data suggest that obesity, particularly central obesity, may be associated with decreased production of sex steroid hormones in men. However, longitudinal hormone data on men in relation to obesity status are limited. Previous studies have not consistently demonstrated whether sex steroids are associated specifically to body mass index or to measures of central obesity. Our objective was to examine the relation of obesity (body mass index > 30 kg/m2), and of central obesity (waist circumference > 100 cm or waist to hip ratio > 0.95) to longitudinal change in sex steroid hormones in men. Design: Prospective follow-up of a population-based sample of men in Boston. Patients: Nine hundred forty-two (942) men in the Massachusetts Male Ageing Study with complete anthropometry and hormone data at baseline (1987-1989, ages 40-70) and follow-up (1995-1997). Measurements: Free and total testosterone (FT and TT), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were assessed using standardized methods. Health behaviours and medical history were obtained by structured interview. Repeated measures regression was used to describe trends in steroid hormones and SHBG in relation to obesity status, adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol, comorbidities, and physical activity. Results: Obesity was associated with decreased levels of total and free testosterone, and of SHBG at follow-up relative to baseline. For any given baseline concentration of TT, FT or SHBG, follow-up levels were lowest among men who remained obese or who became obese during follow-up. This was true for all three indices of obesity. Central adiposity was associated with lower DHEAS levels at follow-up, while elevated body mass index was not. Conclusions: Obesity may predict greater decline in testosterone and SHBG levels with age. Central adiposity may be a more important predictor of decline in DHEAS than is body mass index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-131
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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