Effect of lifestyle changes on erectile dysfunction in obese men: a randomized controlled trial

JAMA. 2004 Jun 23;291(24):2978-84. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.24.2978.


Context: Healthy lifestyle factors are associated with maintenance of erectile function in men.

Objective: To determine the effect of weight loss and increased physical activity on erectile and endothelial functions in obese men.

Design, setting, and patients: Randomized, single-blind trial of 110 obese men (body mass index > or =30) aged 35 to 55 years, without diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia, who had erectile dysfunction that was determined by having a score of 21 or less on the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF). The study was conducted from October 2000 to October 2003 at a university hospital in Italy.

Interventions: The 55 men randomly assigned to the intervention group received detailed advice about how to achieve a loss of 10% or more in their total body weight by reducing caloric intake and increasing their level of physical activity. Men in the control group (n = 55) were given general information about healthy food choices and exercise.

Main outcomes measures: Erectile function score, levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, circulating levels of interleukin 6, interleukin 8, and C-reactive protein, and endothelial function as assessed by vascular responses to l-arginine.

Results: After 2 years, body mass index decreased more in the intervention group (from a mean [SD] of 36.9 [2.5] to 31.2 [2.1]) than in the control group (from 36.4 [2.3] to 35.7 [2.5]) (P<.001), as did serum concentrations of interleukin 6 (P =.03), and C-reactive protein (P =.02). The mean (SD) level of physical activity increased more in the intervention group (from 48 [10] to 195 [36] min/wk; P<.001) than in the control group (from 51 [9] to 84 [28] min/wk; P<.001). The mean (SD) IIEF score improved in the intervention group (from 13.9 [4.0] to 17 [5]; P<.001), but remained stable in the control group (from 13.5 [4.0] to 13.6 [4.1]; P =.89). Seventeen men in the intervention group and 3 in the control group (P =.001) reported an IIEF score of 22 or higher. In multivariate analyses, changes in body mass index (P =.02), physical activity (P =.02), and C-reactive protein (P =.03) were independently associated with changes in IIEF score.

Conclusion: Lifestyle changes are associated with improvement in sexual function in about one third of obese men with erectile dysfunction at baseline.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Erectile Dysfunction / complications*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / physiopathology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / prevention & control*
  • Exercise
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Weight Loss / physiology


  • Biomarkers