Is there a difference between male and female obesity? This gender-related question has enjoyed a fair amount of attention in recent times. While most of us would like to think that chronic obesity is a gender-neutral affliction, there are a handful of biological factors that actually cause disparities between men and women.
This brings up a handful of relevant questions. How do males and females differ in terms of obesity? Are there more obese males or females in the world today? Why does body mass index (BMI) play an important role? Let’s touch upon each of these subjects in a bit more detail.
Male Versus Female Obesity
One important concept to highlight before moving on involves the notion of body mass index. Often abbreviated as BMI, this is a measurement of whether or not an individual is deemed to be overweight. BMI is calculated by dividing one’s weight by the square of their height (normally in meters). However, body mass index can also be misleading at times. An example will serve to illustrate this point.
Let’s imagine that we are comparing two males of the same height and weight. One is a bodybuilder and the other leads a sedentary lifestyle. If this weight exceeded a certain threshold, both would be considered obese. Of course, this is not the case in regard to the bodybuilder.
The disparity highlighted above results from the fact that muscle is denser than fat. As males tend to hold more muscle on their frames, their body mass indices will naturally differ when compared to those associated with females. In other words, this is the reason why men weigh more than females (assuming that heights are equal).
Genetic and Reproductive Factors to Take Into Account
Genes will also play a crucial role in relation to gender-related obesity. As a general rule of thumb, women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat when compared to their male counterparts. To be clear, this is not necessarily unhealthy. Nominal fat stores are vital for those who become pregnant or are nursing. Fat is actually essential in order to ensure the development of a child.
However, certain hormones such as estrogen can increase levels of body fat in some females. This is particularly the case after giving birth, as estrogen concentrations may not return to normal for some time. So, it can be quite difficult for females to lose weight after becoming mothers.
What About Metabolism?
Yet another relevant factor involves what is known as the resting metabolic rate. Studies have shown that men possess resting metabolic rates that are two times faster than women. This is another way of stating that it will be more difficult for females to burn calories if they choose to lead a decidedly sedentary lifestyle.
Female Versus Male Obesity: Which Gender is More Likely to Lose Weight?
This is somewhat of an unfair question, as lifestyle habits often play a predominant role in terms of weight loss. It has nonetheless been shown that men have an easier time losing weight than women. Why is this often the case?
We need to once again return to the differences in muscle mass between men and women. Greater amounts of lean muscle mass cause the body to burn calories at a faster rate. Therefore, males who exercise in order to build or maintain muscle will lose weight at a (generally) quicker pace. This is the very same reason why women are now encouraged to supplement their cardiovascular routines with an additional weight training regimen.
More Than Gender Alone
At first glance, it might appear that the cards are essentially stacked against women who wish to lower their body mass index and to achieve a specific weight. The good news is that this is hardly the case. The main point here is to adopt a healthy and active lifestyle. When this is combined with a nutrient-rich diet, seemingly insurmountable odds can be overcome.
Of course, medical advancements have likewise come a long way. One example can be seen in the flexible nature of the Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon. Not only will this device help to limit caloric intake and reduce cravings, but it can be a powerful tool within a larger weight loss arsenal. Although there are differences between male and female obesity, all of us can eventually achieve the same goals.