British men are saying ‘arse’ to good health as the ‘Jim Royle Generation’ saw the average weight of a British bloke go up by a stone (7.7kg) in just 15 years according to new research on men’s weight.
Two thirds of British men are now overweight and 1 in 4 are obese – which is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and stroke and contributes to premature death and poor quality of life – and is due mainly to a combination of over-eating and lack of exercise.
Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation who commissioned the report said: ‘This research suggests a ticking time bomb for male health, and underlines the importance of both regular exercise and a balanced diet in keeping your weight down and your heart healthy. The number of obese men is not going down.”
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: “It was figures like these that gave the UK its first obesity wake-up call in 2001. Sadly, the initiatives of the last ten years have done nothing to improve the upward surge of the epidemic. There are no current plans on offer to ensure we don’t hit the same rise again in this decade.”
The problem is worse for men according to the 2008 Health Survey for England which found that almost a quarter of adults (24% of men and 25% of women) were obese, and 66% of men and 57% of women were overweight including obese. By comparison 33% of men and 41% of women had a BMI in the normal range. A greater proportion of men than women are overweight (42% compared with 32%).
There are also more overweight boys than girls according to the National Child Measurement Programme. At reception year, 14% of boys are overweight and another 11% are obese, while 13% of girls are overweight and 9% are obese. In Year 6, the last year of primary school, 15% of boys and girls are overweight, and 20% of boys are obese alongside 17% of girls.
Locally almost one in three ten and 11-year-old boys in Brighton and Hove are either overweight or obese.
Fathers have an important role to play – particularly in relation to boys.
Government statistics show that boys and girls are more likely to be overweight if dad is overweight (or mum is overweight) and this risk is increased if both parents are overweight.
Boys under 10 are also more likely to exercise if dad does according to national obesity statistics for men and boys and women and girls.
HOW THIS CONNECTS TO OUR WORK
IMPROVING MALE HEALTH: being a healthy weight is not just good for men and boys physical health, it’s good for their sexual, emotional and mental wellbeing too.
SUPPORTING FATHERS: Boys in particular are influenced by their dads example so helping more dads live longer, happier, healthier lives will have a positive knock-on effect on the next generation too.
HELPING BOYS DO BETTER: Research on boys’ literacy reveals that boys who are poor readers are two to three times more likely to be obese when they grow up – so helping every man and boy read can help us tackle obesity.
EVERY MAN A MENTOR: Harnessing the power of dads and male mentors and role models could make a big difference for boys. For men, addressing the fact that the majority of people both accessing and delivering weight management programmes are female could also help more men maintain a healthy weight.
Look out for our Get A Move On, Dads Connect, Every Man A Mentor and Reading For Boys campaigns in 2011.