Are Obese Men Less Likely to go Bald?

I think that obese men are slightly less likely to be bald than people of lower or normal weight. My guess for this is due to the favorable scalp hair growth effects of extra estrogen and lower testosterone in obese individuals.

When I wrote this post, I ran a poll and only 26 percent of people agreed with my hypothesis. Another 31 percent were unsure. The second half of this post is from 2017 and has those details. The first half is an update with new findings that contradict my hypothesis.

Obesity and Increased Hair Loss

Earlier today, Dr. David Sinclair posted a link to an interesting new Japanese study titled: “Obesity accelerates hair thinning by stem cell-centric converging mechanisms.” Apparently, obesity-induced stress targets hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) to accelerate hair thinning. Excess body fat induces stem cell inflammatory signals which accelerate the miniaturization of mini-organs and repress regeneration. Obesity also leads to marked inhibition of Sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling.

Moreover, a 2014 study from Taiwan concluded that a higher body mass index (BMI) was associated with a greater severity of androgenetic alopecia (AGA). However, in this particular case, the findings only pertained to those who already suffered from AGA. There was no proof that obesity could actually spur the onset of hair loss.

Do note that obesity due to excessive food intake likely has different hormonal effects in comparison to obesity due to excessive alcohol intake. And obesity due to existing thyroid or pituitary gland related  hormonal disorders is also very different.

Despite the above new Japanese study, I am still not convinced. The hormone altering modern diet and lifestyle is likely more of an issue in causing rising rates of balding around the world. Rather than  just actual weight gain. But my opinion and guessing does not mean much of course.

High Body Mass Index and Better Hair?

May 13, 2017

Last week, a new study from Germany concluded that short men are more likely to go bald prematurely (i.e., at an earlier age). This was very surprising to me, since I never noticed any strong correlation between height and scalp hair quantity in real life. The same study also alluded to the fact that “white men in particular lose their hair prematurely”. Something I have also observed and mentioned on this blog before. The above study was widely covered by the global media.

On the other hand, one correlation that I have definitely noticed is that men who are obese seem to on average have a at least modestly lesser chance of balding in comparison to: men who are of average weight; or are slightly overweight; or are slightly underweight. For the sake of simplicity, assume that the definition of an obese man (of average height) is someone who is at least 50 lbs overweight.

On hair loss forums, people often talk about changing their diet to a healthier one in order to see if it improves scalp hair. However, if anything, I have seen highly obese people with a terrible junk food and soda filled diet having better hair than those with more regular diets. I hope I am wrong about that observation.

Moreover, when people lose a lot of weight, one frequent complaint seems to be the side effect of hair loss. This might be a temporary shedding (telogen effluvium) problem in most cases.

Obesity’s Impact on Testosterone and Estrogen

If the above inverse correlation between weight and scalp hair quantity is true, the main reason is probably because very fat men tend to have lower levels of testosterone. This would mean they most likely also have lower levels of dihydrotesterone (DHT), the main culprit in male pattern hair loss. An important study from 2008 found that higher waist circumferences were associated with lower testosterone levels.

It seems like obese men might also have higher estrogen levels, which can benefit scalp hair significantly. See my post on estrogen and hair growth.

Update: I had to delete the poll in 2018 due to some plugin issues. The results of the poll are summarized below.

In your daily life, have you noticed that obese men are less likely to go bald in comparison to non-obese men?

Total responses = 1,380.

Yes = 362 (26.2%).

No = 595 (43.1%).

Not Sure = 423 (30.7%).

Obesity and Hair Loss.
Obesity and Hair Loss.

94 thoughts on “Are Obese Men Less Likely to go Bald?”

  1. I’ve got a coworker that is 300+ and has more hair then I even started out with it looks like Hugh’s from Logan.

  2. Ahh bull. I’ve seen so many obese balding guys even young obese balding guys. I’d say if its in your genes to lose your hair then a healthy diet MAY slow it down, there are studies linking alcohol to balding. At the end of the day all diet does is either speed or slow the process. I have seen comments here also on testosterone and oestrogen, obese men would still make adequate amounts of testosterone. I am shocked by this poll though, I would expect it to have been the opposite. So many fat balding men i notice more. Seems to be the skinny guys with the thick heads of hair. I know this because I hate on these genetically blessed people in my head :’)

    1. You could say the same about the short versus tall debate, but apparently there is a connection if you believe the study results.

      In any case, its not the number you have seen, its the percentage you have seen in obese people versus in non-obese people.

      Also, you are comparing obese to skinny, but what about the majority who are neither very fat nor skinny? Remember that overweight is different than obese, and normal is different than skinny. I am only talking about obese in this poll.

      So far the majority seem to agree with you though assuming they understood what I meant by obese:-)

  3. I think an important to consider whether the obesity is linked to genetic factors or mainly due to bad diet.
    In the first case, it might well be associated with good hair condition as suggested in the post.
    In the 2nd case, I do not think obesity will help hair’s health, as any bald(ing) person can easily become obese simply by overeating. If anything, I think a good diet which avoids junk food and sugar and restricts calories, will reduce oxidative stress and slow down the overall aging process, which should overall be positive for hair’s health.

  4. Very interesting Admin, I thank you

    I am sort of torn on this one? I have an enormously fat uncle who apart from been a threat to my jam jar has a marvellous hair line. I have also noticed he has some breathing problems so it may be that been a bit of a fatso can affect fitness?

    My conclusions are that there is probably some correlation. As mentioned, extra weight effects hormones so this could be the answer?

    However, I know one thing. With my luck if I decided to glutton myself on 10 pizzas a day I would no doubt send shudders to clothes shop assistants and terrify Airline staff, but ultimately I would go from a slim bald man to a fat bald man who has to pay double for an airline ticket

    Thanks again Admin

    1. <10% and 4.3% in hairline in safety and stabilized the hair loss, it is great news especially when it is a safety trial. i hope as rumors showing in japan that shisheido will offer a kind of cure for many of hairloss sufferers, i have a great respect to Japanese culture, hopefully shisheido will deliver to us great news in 2018. i know what i,s to losing your hair, I have TE( a rogaine effect) for over a year i lost more than 50% of my hair density and destroy my hair line. Doctors are not helping and are ignorance. my speculations are that a treatment will be comercialized after 2020 even if is shisheido , hairclone or rinken. the good news is people invest in hairloss and improvment will exist i hope in 10 years i will be confindent with my hair again and i will be only 40 years old :)
      have a nice time Gentlemen and Ladies.

      p.s. i really would like to see a crowdfunting and the money will be raise to assist a research. or to build a new organization to devoted how to cure hairloss with actions and not with speculations.

  5. The correlation between obese people suffering less hairloss can also maybe be linked to the adipose fat stem cell therapies that we are seeing increase in use for hair regeneration purposes. Of course obese people possess more fat and therefore more stem cells of this kind? It’s pure speculation on my part but maybe there is a link between the two. Note that the adipose stem cells are rich with 3a-hsd which is a theory I have presented before.

      1. I’ve always been here keeping up with your great work admin! Just haven’t had much time to comment.

  6. I can’t say I’ve noticed obese men being less bald but I do concur about white men losing their hair earlier. White men also gray earlier. As a white man suffering from both hair loss and graying hair, I’m looking for the holy grail!

  7. @tom, the last on Follica is that they havent yet startet their last pivotal trial:-/But will start within the next 12 months. Check HLT forum > New research and studies…there is a thread mentioning it. Not entirely sure how reliable the info is.

    1. I think the source is pretty reliable, but follica is not reliable to really start this trial within the next 12 months. They will have a delay of at least one year, now. (Initially the planned to start seceond half of 2016). Forget about it before 2020. It was promising with all their new website and meeting……

  8. Cmon its all about genetics. If youre a genetic baldie being fat wount save your hair. not a high level scientific comment but that simple:D

    1. If excess fat reduces your testosterone and raises your estrogen, that is not genetics. People who take testosterone supplements often complain of hair loss.

      I would never recommend this, but I wonder what would happen if someone who just started balding in his early 20s decides to gain 100 lbs weight by overeating. Will that person see a reduction in speed of hair loss?

      1. Well a lot of speculation in here but in the end those biological processes depend on too many components to make a general statement. I remember a similar topic admin where we talked about correlations between body hair and AGA. what i noticed in a while is that especially for example men from turkey or arabic countries seem to have a lot of body hair but still have a full head of hair in their 30s or even 40s…

        what i want to point out is that nature seems to show every kind of correlation between baldness and other characteristics but than again we see examples which totally contradict. So in the end there is only follicles being prone to shrinking to a certain level or not. another thing reminding me of our powerlessness is when i see homeless people, who probably dont have access to healthy food but still have a full head of hair, while ourkind is counting gramms of supplementation,eating healthy and still balding.

        1. But yeah maybe gaining weight in addition to a lower testosterone level is slowing the process till some point for some people

  9. I have a gut feeling that follica will just pop out of nowhere with a release. It looks like they have their packaging and marketing down. Funds in place. Promoting to derms etc. Sounds like they are ready. Plus they never mentioned when they start or finish trials. So we really don’t know they delayed or not.

  10. As Bant21 has already said, it is excellent knows that not only has Replicel shown that they can achieve full DHT immunity for susceptible scalp hairs, but that there was modest regrowth as well in their safety trial. Those numbers should only improve with phase 2 and 3 data. That is huge news. Count me in for this treatment.

  11. and, as always, what about woman?
    hair loss in woman is much more hard devastating and horrible than mens and is always treated like a tabu or just ignored. aint fair¡

    1. I agree and have said so many times.

      However, I did not see the same correlation in women as I did in men regarding obesity and less hair loss.

  12. Seems the effect from Replicel lasted 2 and a half years at least. I was hoping the effect would increase over time but perhaps that was too optimistic. Im gussing in stage 2 they might try multiple treatments some months apart.

    1. @hairplz Keep in mind these results were from one injection. Multiple injections could yield better results (as seen with Histogen’s product).

      The data released in a few weeks will reveal more, I’m sure.

      1. I have read the results more carefully. They used a high dose it seems which is unusual for phase 1 . Seems safety is clear.

        They claim that based on animal data smaller spaced out doses work better as that helps the cells survive in greater numbers.

        Seems phase 2 they will try:
        “Next-phase trials will be designed to test repeated injection sessions with smaller cell doses than were used in this study.”

          1. I guess worst case scenario is it can help mantain hair with a small minoxidil-like degree of regrowth as a bonus.

  13. A key point with the histogen data: it compares vs baseline and not control. Difference vs control would be safe to assume is greater.

  14. the only gud thing i have ever done is having a fue… thats it I am going to have one more this time around 4k grafts maybe… will wait until this christmas and get it done…. dont wanna waste my time waiting for some thing that is not coming sooner…

  15. Same here one more FUE at this point will buy time for other technologies/products to come out. We are almost there !!!!

  16. Yeah man I had fue and didn’t worry for like 5 years… I almost forgot about hair loss.. But stupid genes kicked in bcos I never took fin or minoxidil…

  17. @Hairplz solid points.

    It’s sounds like Replicel’s animal trials have seen better efficacy with smaller doses and more injections. Hopefully this translates to humans as well.

    Also, Lee Buckler said that these phase 1 results were not achieved with the use of Replicel’s new injector device. He says that there is a good possibility that efficacy will also be improved with the utilization of this newly approved injector, as dosage, delivery points, and skin depth precision can be achieved much more accurately with the injector than a traditional needle.

    A complete halting of hairloss + ~20% regrowth and I would be ecstatic. Combine that with Histogen, Follica, Fidia, Samumed etc, and I think we’ll be seeing some serious gains.

    If these phase 1 results are accurate, which there is no reason to believe they aren’t, then this will cure millions of men of this disease. Combine that with a HT and that number increases significantly. This is really great news.

    1. Thats alot of lotions , injections, and chemicals to be putting on ones head!! Who knows what kind of adverse reaction can be had by using all of those things together . If one of these companies can’t figure out how to get me at least 50% of my hair back at a reasonable price within a year Im going to have to look into non surgical hair restoration . The technology i see with these new hair pieces looks pretty good and it can technically be a 100% cure if you want it to be .

    2. In idea in terms of timeline and product release? How many more trials do they actually need to compete?

      Thanks

  18. I’m just letting nature take its course that way when hair cloning does come out i can just get it all in hopefully one shot instead of waiting for it to progress then getting maintenance procedures every 5 years.

  19. @Red, really nice to fantasize bout all the treatments you mentioned. Would indeed be nice. But to begin with it would be nice if just 1 of those treatment actually got released.

    1. Yes…. Will work in AA and don’t believe to come to the market before 2020….. Is just the normal way of this trial and testings!

  20. Maybe this is related? https://knowridge.com/2017/03/this-diet-helps-shed-pounds-release-toxins-and-reduce-oxidative-stress/
    “…weight loss — which releases toxins into the blood — could have a negative effect on dieters’ health. Environmental pollutants and other toxins are stored in fatty tissue. During weight loss, fat breaks down and toxins are discharged into the bloodstream.
    Scientists have expressed concern that the released toxins could increase dieters’ oxidative stress and their risk of developing serious conditions, including hormone (endocrine) disruption (reproductive and fertility problems), heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”

  21. Another possibly relevant factor is that obesity can damage or otherwise impair the circulatory system, which could be harmful to hair.

    I think we’re just more likely to notice obese people with great hair because it’s contrary the the intuition that health should be largely holistic in nature. In reality, they probably just have an allele that makes them less susceptible to AGA.

  22. Its true. Lower testosterone equals lower DHT, therefore even if the individual is genetically predisposed to lose hair he will suffer a slower or delayed hair loss. From personal experience I started losing hair when I started going to the gym because working out increases testosterone, its scientifically proven.

  23. There’s a guy I work with who’s overweight, eats only processed foods, is an alcoholic, and more than 10 years older than me who has almost a full head of hair with almost no graying. I on the other hand have a very healthy lifestyle yet am extremely receeded and whitening. Life’s not fair lol.

  24. I knew a lot fat guys that were bald also friends in college that drank every night and started losing their hair

    Looks like Sinclair said he’s going to get into the game.

    1. Of course, everyone does..but are the fat less likely than the thin to go fully bald!? Would make sense as the very overweight have less DHT hormone. Not sure about the oestrogen.

  25. Why does any of it matter? The fact in 2021 we are still debating hormone levels vs talking about why a hair is affected by DHT is kind of crazy. We cant make or design anything that can attach and block to only hair follicle receptors and protect them from DHT/T molecules preventing MPB regardless of what your hormone levels are?
    Its pretty sad.

  26. Feel free to delete admin because this is offtopic but has anyone tried stemoxydine and if so is it worth the $$?

  27. Totally agree with you Joey. That’s why I said in my earlier post that we are in the same place we were in 2001. Yeah we got researchers “working” on hair cloning but even then they said it was 10 yrs away just like how it is now. Sad.

    1. It’s really depressing. I don’t believe a cure nor a fully working treatment will come out by the researchers that are currently “working” on finding a cure. If a cure comes out it will be done by accident just like other effective treatments such as minoxidil and dht blockers.

    2. I dont have an issue with other avenues of research like hair cloning, but preventing MPB aka blocking androgens safely at the receptor sites needs to be a priority. A guy that has literally all of his hair as of today (most men) needs to castrate himself with drugs forever, or watch himself slowly bald with no other current option? An ounce of prevention is worth a lb. of cure, but in this case we lack the prevention. We have known DHT/androgens for 30-40 years so far. Propecia is not enough.

  28. i’m sorry admin this a off topic but, I noticed something. it’s known that American car manufactures are not very good compared to Japanese car companies Toyota and Honda. why? Because japan wants to improve the quality of lives with building reliable affordable cars they don’t want to sell you a shit product and take your money they have been doing that for decades. American car companies like gm and ford are not very good on reliability maybe in the older days but not up there with the Japanese. Japan will improve the quality of life with hair cloning and get it through trials quicker, will the united states medical establishment do the same? of course not! some people will understand some won’t. that’s fine with me.

  29. @woofy that’s because US medicine has different priorities. They improve lives in other areas such as disease research, probably more then any other country. They just have different priorities…I’m not saying baldness isnt a disease, because it can be considered that based on the poor emotional state it sways some people toward. It would be nice for some real funding and dedication occurring toward finding a side effect free effective treatment, but I’m not sure that will happen in our lifetime. The only way serious funding will ever occur with mpb, is if an A plus celebrity advertises it and it makes the news. At that point you would have millions of balding men and women throw some coin in that go fund me account, and watch the scientists come forward ready to work. Until that day comes, we are all left looking around, waiting, for someone with balls to step up. That’s the reality whether you like it or not. I am in my 40s and have been following and waiting for someone like Cots to succeed. I really thought he would be this point. But it’s all hoping, the best he can do is tweak someone else’s findings to develop a minox based treatment. Sad but true.

  30. Actually the United states medicine industry is to hook you on drugs for life with mediocre results. We still use the same treatments for many diseases the past few decades. They want you sick, to buy life long drugs and keep you on them. It’s all about money and not about your well being. Yes there have been some advancements but man you need that cash to get it.

      1. I’m sorry guys but I think you are just coping with this. It’s much easier do believe in a evil empire that is not letting ( the existing ?) miracle cure hit the market rather than face the harsh reality and understand that in the medical field we are not as advanced as we’d like to. I talk by experience, for example we know little to nothing about the immunitary system. I know it’s scary cause god knows when we will actually have something, but that’s the truth

        1. Yeah you are for sure right. There is no magic cure anywhere because MPB is just that hard of a condition to cure, and its not at the top of the list either. Its also very poorly understood and complicated because so many things tie into it. If it was a single cause or two I think MPB would be cured by now, but its not.

  31. Let’s be honest … a definitive cure for baldness is a bit like the resurrection of Lazarus … it won’t happen guys! neither today nor tomorrow and whoever runs this blog knows it very well ;-)

    1. @ Lorence exactly Stemsons therapeutics which is truly our only hope isn’t going to come out until the 2030s . Dr tsuji is done and Dr junji is , leading down the same path of Dr tsuji Dr junji the same guy who said French fries can cure baldness c’mon give me a break. Tissues is a complete and utter joke. Ukhairclone is obviously a scam. I can’t believe we’ve been cloning full blown mammals with no advers side effects,and we’re about to colonize mars in 2024 but hair cloning is still decades away .and thanks woofy97 for saying david Sinclair is a celebrity scientist that that just has pseudo science.

      1. Marc i hope you’re being genuine lol. I don’t understand how people got upset about that comment. I just said my opinion is that Sinclair is a celebrity scientists because he’s been on Joe rogan and other platforms talking about anti aging stuff and now he wants to get into the hair loss area. And then I simply typed I’ll believe it when I see it tested on human because if he were to do hair cloning you know they never start human trials they just test on mice for years or they run out of money. his tweet is all talk for now. People freaked out. Like relax. Yoda understood me though.

  32. Mjones are you dissapointed at all with your boy Cots? I really thought by now he would have something that worked that was side effect free and not associated with minox or fin. I have been following him since my teen years and I’m in my 40’s.

  33. I hear ya. I find it staggering that here in Australia, we still have the two (dodgy) big hair company’s that for the last 25-30 years have been flogging the same old sh*t to gullable clients up to four thousand each year. Fin/Min/vitamin combo’s and some pics! That’s it. Apart from their crappy transplants, the very same meds are available via prescription by your local doc for well under a hundred a month depending on where you go. A recent ad campaign by one shows NW0 actors (who clearly have never lost a hair in their lives) claiming to have re-grown all their hair. (The very same company that has faced recent lawsuits from locking clients into unfair payment contracts). I swear, if I ever come across one of those insipid lying actors, I’m gonna put their teeth through the back of their unethical necks! Go try growing your teeth back scumbag. Ha.

  34. Sad is right. We’re having the same convos we had 20 years ago. We get hopeful for every bit of news but really nothing is happening. Nothing much, anyway. Something that really works isn’t coming out in the next 8 years (perhaps in 2030 and beyond), imo. It’s clear when every month passes and we’re really no closer. Ten years from now we’ll be having the same convo. It’s hair! We’re not talking about an iron man suit. Seriously.

    1. We have been through this many times over the years. We need to shoot at the most basic common sense known stuff first – androgens. We need a way to block them completely at the receptor level safely aka breezula, and we need that ASAP. It should not have been 40 years since propecia to improve upon this. Again prevention is the easiest simples thing, and helps the most people. Then you can try more complicated elaborate things. It might be possible to coax dp stem cells into reactivating hair growth. All the hairs and cells still exist so its probably possible.

  35. Tomjones… I’m very disappointed in him and the whole industry. Not sure what the hold up is with follica. I’m sure it works since they showed pics of average regrowth but definitely not impressive. I tried derma stamping once a week on my right side of hair line with minox and I have not seen a single new hair. Just worsening on that side. It’s been 3 months. I use 1.5Mm stamp. I dont see how people get robust growth from a stamp.

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