Big bellies lead to problems below the belt

Tell a man his big belly will lead to heart disease, diabetes, hormonal problems, and even dementia down the road, and you'll barely get his attention.

So I take a different approach with my overweight patients -- I tell them how obesity boosts the risks of sex problems, urinary dysfunction, and prostate problems.

Those'll always get a man's attention.

It's no exaggeration, either, and a new study confirms all that and more as researchers find that men with oversized belts have a higher risk of big-time problems below the belt.

Researchers in New York divided 409 men between the ages of 40 and 91 with various urinary tract symptoms into three groups based on their waist size: less than 36 inches, 36-38 inches, and 40 inches or more.

Sure enough, those with the biggest numbers had the highest risk of any number of issues -- including a complete inventory of all the problems men fear most.

For example, 74.5 percent of men with waistlines of 40 inches or more had erectile dysfunction, more than double the 32 percent of men with waistlines of less than 36 inches.

The big-bellied men also had triple the risk of ejaculation problems, with 65 percent of them battling those embarrassing issues, versus just 21 percent of men with waistlines of less than 36 inches.

Men in the 36-38 inch group fell in the middle, with half of them suffering from erectile dysfunction and 40 percent experiencing ejaculation problems.

Other "down there" functions also got worse as waistlines got bigger. Men with waistlines of 40 inches or more made the most trips to the bathroom, with 40 percent experiencing frequent urination versus 16 percent of those with the smallest waistlines.

And of course, men with the biggest waistlines were also more likely to face everything from high blood pressure and high cholesterol to heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

Obviously, if you're big in the middle and experiencing any of those problems you need to lose the weight pronto. The researchers say shaving just 2.5 inches off an oversized waistline could be enough for most men to overcome these and other issues.

And for those of you who are big around the middle and not battling sex problems or urinary issues yet, lose the weight now... or suffer later.