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Weight Loss in Childhood May Protect Boys Against Future Infertility

FRIDAY, Sept. 24, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Obese boys who lose weight may avoid fertility problems in adulthood, a preliminary study suggests.

Even short-term weight loss might partially reverse weight-related alterations in reproductive function, the researchers said.

Childhood obesity can have serious effects on adulthood health, including a risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Obesity has also been linked to fertility problems in men and women.

For the study, Dr. Solène Rerat and colleagues at Angers University Hospital in France studied how a 12-week weight-loss program in 34 boys, aged 10 to 18, affected markers of reproductive health and metabolism.

Over the three months, the boys lost weight, and had improved insulin levels and increased testosterone levels, the investigators found. There were also signs that Leydig cells in the testes, which had been altered by obesity, had reversed. Leydig cells are an indicator of fertility.

The findings were scheduled for presentation Thursday at the virtual annual meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology. Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"These findings underline the need to consider childhood obesity as a factor in future fertility issues. We strongly recommend that early management of childhood obesity is necessary to reverse these impairments, and to help prevent future reproductive problems, as well as lowering the risks of other debilitating diseases," Rerat said in a society news release.

"Our study only evaluated the effects in a small number of obese boys after a twelve-week therapeutic educational program," Rerat cautioned. "Further studies with longer follow-up are needed to help us fully study the effect of weight reduction on reproductive function."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on childhood obesity.

SOURCE: European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology, news release, Sept. 23, 2021

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