Men who have been watching their gut grow have more to worry about than just increased risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes — new research shows they're more likely to have sexual and urinary problems too.
US researchers found that a large waist circumference was linked with more trips to the toilet.
But if overweight men reduced their waist size by just 6cm, they would see a big improvement in erectile dysfunction and frequency of urination.
In the world's most comprehensive study into the impact of obesity on urinary problems, researchers studied more than 400 men and found three quarters of overweight men experience erectile dysfunction, compared with a third of men with a healthy weight.
Overweight men also experience more interrupted sleep, with 44 percent needing to get up a couple of times each night to urinate, compared with 16 percent of slim men.
The researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College at Cornell University in New York said the bigger a man's waist circumference, the more likely he is to experience sexual and urinary problems.
"The findings demonstrate that obesity in men –– part of a growing global epidemic –– affects their wellbeing in profound ways," study author Dr Steven Kaplan said.
"We have to think of the body in a much more holistic way. What we eat can have devastating consequences on more than just our hearts. Quality of life issues, such as sexual and voiding [urinary] health, can be affected as well in drastic ways."
The researchers are still determining how obesity creates sexual problems, but Dr Kaplan believes it could be that obesity triggers hormones that alter the blood flow to the pelvis.
"We now have an expanded understanding of how obesity can impact the health of men, and a simple way to recognise which men might be affected in these ways," Dr Kaplan said.
"Measuring a man's waistline is easy, noninvasive and does not require extensive testing."
The study investigated the link between obesity and lower urinary tract symptoms, such as difficulty urinating and increased frequency throughout the day and night.
The participants were aged between 40 and 91. A third measured less than 91cm around the waist, a third measured between 91cm and 101cm and a third had a waist circumference greater than 101cm.
Associate Professor Wendy Brown, from the Monash University Centre for Obesity Research and Education, told ninemsn that experts are aware of the erectile problems associated with obesity.
"Erectile problems are more common in men who are obese mainly because of mechanical issues," she said.
"Male infertility is also higher in obese men and male specific cancers such as prostate cancer are higher too."
She recommends any men with a waist circumference greater than 94cm –– the Cancer Council's recommendation –– try to lose weight.
"Whilst cardiovascular risk has been the thing that we focus most on, people do forget that if they lose weight, they also improve their health in lots of other ways, in terms of cancer risk and fertility and arthritis," Professor Brown said.