Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Our Pregnant Men!

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 11:12 AM

MANY OF our men appear to be pregnant. It is not an uncommon sight to see men whose swollen bellies make them look pregnant. They have what I call the male pregnancy syndrome.

This condition is associated with a high incidence of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, circulatory problems, and metabolic disorders like high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and uric acid in the blood. Other seemingly unrelated conditions like chronic fatigue, erectile dysfunction, chronic back ache, acid reflux, snoring, and sleep apnea are also related to this kind of obesity. Medical research suggests that a man with a waist measurement of more than 39 inches will increase his risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease by more than 500 per cent.

The problem

The obesity of the male pregnancy syndrome involves an accumulation of fat on the upper trunk - from the neck to the abdomen, often without the arms, legs, or buttocks being involved. Doctors know this as 'apple' shaped or truncal obesity. We call it 'beer belly' or 'big gut'.

This 'pregnancy' fat is not just under the skin. It accumulates inside the abdominal cavity, covering and infiltrating the internal organs and is associated with the serious medical conditions mentioned above. The liver is particularly prone to be strangled by this fat, creating a condition called fatty liver disease.

Excess of simple carbohydrates in the diet stimulates the overproduction of insulin and the development of a hormonal disturbance called insulin resistance. This hormonal and metabolic disorder is the underlying cause of most cases of the male pregnancy syndrome because excess insulin promotes abdominal obesity. Another hormonal imbalance, with increased levels of female hormones and lower levels of the male hormone testosterone, leads to sexual dysfunction.

Of course, women can also develop this apple-type obesity. Their buttocks, legs, and arms may be normal, but they display the large abdomen of male pregnancy sometimes accompanied by large breasts and neck. They carry the same risks as their pregnant-looking male counterparts.

Pear-shaped obesity is more common in women, with fat accumulation in the lower abdomen, thighs, and buttocks, most of it located beneath the skin. This kind of fat is less active metabolically and represents stored excess calories. Experts postulate that this is nature's way of stockpiling extra energy for the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is a much less dangerous pattern of obesity, associated with fewer medical problems.

After cigarette smoking, obesity remains the commonest preventable cause of death in the world today. Male pregnancy-type obesity is a particularly common, dangerous, preventable, and correctable condition.

The solution

The usual recommendation to lose weight by just cutting back on food consumption often fails to deal with this kind of obesity. The individual may lose some weight (mostly muscle) from their arms, legs, neck, and face with relatively little fat loss from the abdomen. This is particularly true of those diets that simply cut back on fats.

Much of the epidemic of abdominal obesity is due to the overconsumption of carbohydrates, especially simple and refined sugars and starches. A highly effective approach is the programme that I use and developed by Herbalife International. This plan minimises the body's burden of excess carbohydrates, causing the system to burn abdominal fat instead of storing it. This programme focuses on fat loss rather than just weight loss. It helps you reshape and contour your body while retaining your muscle mass.

A trained weight-loss coach equipped to do a body analysis estimates your body fat percentage and your ideal body weight. Based on this information, the programme is then customised for you. This is the most scientific and effective way I know for healthy fat reduction.

The emphasis is placed on the right intake of healthy protein plus lots of vegetables and the less sugary fruit. Vitamin and mineral supplements are added to ensure balanced cellular nutrition. A concentrated green tea beverage stimulates the metabolism to burn fat while keen attention is paid to optimal water and fibre consumption.


Exercise is very important, but exercise alone, especially just abdominal exercise, is not effective in dealing with male pregnancy. The solution involves 80 per cent nutrition and 20 per cent exercise. Make nutritional changes your first priority. Then, I recommend adding 30 minutes or more of brisk walking, or other aerobic activity, three to five times weekly, depending on your fitness level. Then a more comprehensive exercise programme including muscle building resistance training can be introduced.

n You may email Dr Vendryes at or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER106FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Access to his books and articles is available on his website