MANY OF our men appear to be pregnant. Yes, it is a not 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 backache, 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 over 39 inches will increase his risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease by over 500 per cent!
Here are some facts about the male pregnancy syndrome:
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. This is known as 'apple' shaped or truncal obesity. We also know it as '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 being strangled by this fat, creating a condition called fatty liver. Hormonal imbalance, with high levels of female hormones, often develops leading to sexual dysfunction.
Excess of simple carbohydrates in the diet stimulates the production of excess insulin and the development of a condition called insulin resistance. This hormonal and metabolic disorder is the underlying cause of most cases of the male pregnancy syndrome as excess insulin promotes abdominal obesity.
Of course, non-pregnant 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 nutrition for the demands of pregnancy and breast feeding. 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 usual recommendation to lose weight by just cutting back on food consumption is often inadequate in dealing with this kind of obesity. The individual may lose some weight (including muscle) from their arms, legs, neck and face with relatively little loss from the abdomen. This is particularly true of those plans that simply cut back on fats.
Too much carbs
A highly effective approach is the programme that I use and developed by Herbalife International. Much of the epidemic of abdominal obesity is due to the over consumption of carbohydrates, especially simple and refined sugars and starches. 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. We use trained weight loss coaches who are equipped to do a body analysis to estimate your percentage of body fat and your ideal body weight. Based on this information, the programme is then customised to suit your needs. This is the most scientific and effective way I know for healthy fat reduction.
Protein, vitamin and mineral supplements are added to your diet to ensure balanced cellular nutrition. Keen attention must also be paid to a generous intake of water and fibre.
Abdominal exercises alone are not effective in dealing with male pregnancy. Make nutritional changes your first priority. Then, I recommend 30 minutes or more of brisk walking, three to five times weekly depending on your fitness level. A more comprehensive exercise programme can then be gradually introduced.
Let us all make a commitment to reduce this major health risk in our society - the male pregnancy syndrome.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at firstname.lastname@example.org or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.