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High prevalence of subnormal testosterone in obese adolescent males: reversal with bariatric surgery



Obesity in adolescent males is associated with the lowering of total and free testosterone concentrations. Weight loss may increase testosterone concentrations.

Research design and methods

We evaluated the changes in sex hormones following bariatric surgery in 34 males (age range: 14.6 - 19.8 years) with obesity. These participants were part of a prospective multicenter study, Teen-Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery. The participants were followed up for 5 years after surgery. Total testosterone, total estradiol, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, sex hormone-binding globulin, C-reactive protein, insulin and glucose were measured at baseline, 6 months and annually thereafter. Free testosterone, free estradiol and HOMA2-IR were calculated.


Study participants lost one-third of their body weight after bariatric surgery, with maximum weight loss achieved at 24 months for most participants. Free testosterone increased from 0.17 (95% CI: 0.13 to 0.20) at baseline to 0.34 (95% CI: 0.30 to 0.38) and 0.27 nmol/L (95% CI: 0.23 to 0.32) at 2 and 5 years (P < 0.001 for both), respectively. Total testosterone increased from 6.7 (95% CI: 4.7 to 8.8) at baseline to 17.6 (95% CI: 15.3 to 19.9) and 13.8 (95% CI: 11.0 to 16.5) nmol/L at 2 and 5 years (P < 0.001), respectively. Prior to surgery, 73% of the participants had subnormal free testosterone (< 0.23 nmol/L). After 2 and 5 years, only 20 and 33%, respectively, had subnormal free testosterone concentrations. Weight regain was related to a fall in free testosterone concentrations.


Bariatric surgery led to a robust increase in testosterone concentrations in adolescent males with severe obesity. Participants who regained weight had a decline in their testosterone concentrations.

Abstract link