A new study in the journal Transgender Health indicates a significant increase in body mass index (BMI) over time in the transgender males after starting testosterone therapy.
The study was conducted at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus where the researchers set out to study changes in metabolic parameters in trans youth on testosterone therapy in comparison to a group of cisgender females.
Key findings of the study included:
- The transgender group experienced a significant change in BMI of +1.28% from visit to visit as compared to +.7% in the cisgender cohort.
- From the start of the process to the follow-up, there was a +3.29% increase in BMI among trans males as compared to a -1.77% decrease among cisgender females.
- After testosterone exposure, the transgender male cohort experienced a decrease in high-density lipoproteins (HDL), sometimes called the “good” cholesterol.
- The prevalence of obesity was higher in the transgender and cisgender cohorts (26.2%) than the national average (20.6%).
Researchers concluded that more studies are needed to better define the effects of testosterone therapy in trans adolescents.
“This would allow practitioners to provide more comprehensive counseling about gender-affirming hormone therapy to these youth and their families, and potentially refine guidelines for laboratory monitoring and diet/lifestyle interventions in those on testosterone,” wrote the researchers.
Researchers ultimately highlighted that there is evidence supporting improved mental health outcomes with medical transition that includes gender-affirming hormones, which may ultimately impact BMI.
“As such, it is critical to weigh any potential cardiometabolic risk of testosterone against potential psychosocial benefit given the morbidity and mortality associated with anxiety and depression in transgender adolescents.”