Q: The older I get the more fat I seem to get around my middle. Is this normal for a man over 50? Should I be concerned?

A: When you think about health problems that can affect your life the most as you age, what comes to mind? Heart issues? Prostate problems? Low testosterone?

One study points out it’s actually a spare tire that gives men the most trouble.

Researchers from Odense University Hospital in Denmark polled 598 Danish men between the ages of 60 and 74, using a questionnaire that asked about quality-of-life factors such as physical ability, vitality, and social and emotional health. The researchers also measured the men’s body composition and testosterone levels.

The study found that a big belly had the biggest impact on a man’s general health, and that as men’s waistlines grew, their quality of life and sense of well-being tumbled. Low testosterone, by comparison, had little effect on the men’s lives.

While low testosterone can impact everything from a man’s bone and muscle mass to sex drive and hair loss, for instance, guys are more likely to feel the harmful health effects of being overweight. Some of those health risks include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Low HDL (“good”) cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Cancer

The study is a reminder that keeping your gut from growing is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health and well-being as you get older.

And a bonus: Shedding those extra pounds might even raise your testosterone levels. That is a win-win!

If you’re a guy whose day-to-day is more sedentary – and you’ve been watching your belly get bigger in the process – it’s time to kick things into gear and start moving. Some studies even show that adding more exercise to your day can help fight cancer.

Plus, your heart benefits from it, too. And if you find yourself falling to temptation in the foods you eat, remake your diet the right way.

Remember, there’s nothing manly about a big belly. Lose it for good and reap the benefits of better health.

Dr. William E. Kyle is an internal medicine physician with Memorial Health University Physicians’ Adult Primary Care in Bluffton. MemorialHealthDoctors.com